Senate seeks to prohibit casual jobs for graduates in Nigeria

• As lawmakers allege banks of turning female marketers into sexual slaves

The Prohibition of Casualisation Bill 2020 scaled second reading, on Thursday, on the floor of the Senate Sponsored by Senator representing Ondo central, Ayo Akinyelure, the bill seeks to stop employers in the private and public sectors from engaging Nigerian graduates as casual workers.

Presenting his lead debate, Senator Akinyelure said that “casualisation of Nigerian graduates in the Nigerian labour market has become a subject of great concern as more workers continue to groan under this immoral strategy of cutting cost by employers rendering them inferior to their counterpart in other countries of the world.”

According to him, “Statistics from the Nigeria Labour Congress shows that many workers in the telecommunications, oil and gas sectors are engaged as casual labourers by employers of labours.

“Other sectors with thousands of casual labourers include mining, steel, banking and insurance.

“In all these sectors, staff outsourcing and casualization have become the order of the day as such workers no longer have regularised employment terms and, therefore, Nigerian graduates are treated as second class citizens in their own country of origin while foreigners from underdeveloped Countries from Asian, Indian, Pakistan, Lebanon with less qualification to Nigerian graduates are placed as managers above Nigerian graduates in many Private and even Government establishments in Nigeria.”

Highlighting the enormity of the crisis, Akinyelure maintained that “the increase in the spread and gradual acceptance of this labour practice in the Nigerian labour market has become an issue of great concern to stakeholders.”

“Employers of labour is increasingly filling positions in their organizations that are supposed to be permanent skilled workers with casual employees.

“The trend has been largely attributed to the increasing desperation of employers to cut down organisational costs and thereby taking advantage of large numbers of unemployed graduates roaming the streets of our major cities in Nigeria.

“Mr President and Distinguished Colleagues, engagement of large attendants of the workforce on the basis of visualization has become worrisome in the Nigeria labour market.

“Mr President, let me re-emphasize that on daily basis, these workers are recruited at the gate and tired at will, in spite of the fact that these workers continue to generate enormous profits for the various establishment they work for, they remain classified as casuals and subjected to deplorable and inhumane working conditions.

“Apart from the fact that these categories of workers are working under a spate of uncertainties, casualisation also reveals a brutal work growth process similar to slave labour,” he said.

Akinyelure who further cited the banking industry as a hub for casualisation blamed banks for turning female marketers into harlots and sexual slaves in a desperate attempt by them to keep their jobs and meet unrealistic deposit targets.

“Mr President, in Banking and Insurance Industry, for instance, many young graduates particularly female are employed as Marketers and given unrealistic Customer deposit ceiling targets running into millions. They are hired and fired at will when such unrealistic targets are not met.

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“The female among them who are desperate in keeping their jobs turned to harlotry and sex slavery, moving from one office to the other looking for invisible customers who had staunch of the fund to enable them to meet their targets Mr President, it is high time this evil and devilish act is stopped,” the lawmaker fumed.

Senator representing Ekiti South, Biodun spoke in a similar vein.

“Our girls have been turned into what we cannot imagine. Most of them have been asked to look for funds, and I always tell them, I do not even have the funds to eat, how can I have funds to keep with you in the bank?

“And they will never be promoted if they don’t bring in such funds, and this is a banking industry that is privately owned, yes but has made so much profit, and from the profit, they could at least take the few that they can manage properly, rather than take a lot that they will be giving pittance.”

She advocated for a legal framework to ensure that casualisation does not exist.

“If you must take workers, take the number you can on proper emoluments.

Senator representing Osun Central and Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ajibola Basiru, however, called for caution.

Making reference to a Supreme Court judgement which confers on employers the power to hire, he submitted that the National Assembly “must make a distinction in making the prohibition between employment in the public sector and employment in the private sector.”

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege in his contribution expressed concern over the treatment of casual workers by oil companies operating in the country.

The lawmaker representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa equally asked his colleagues to exercise caution as he noted that there are public and private corporations that require service of casual workers.

“I think we need to be a bit careful with this bill, reasons are not far fetched.

“Both in the public sector and the private sector, when we talk about casualisation, there are certain organizations even in the public sector that require the services of casual workers.

“I give a simple example with the Independent National Electoral Commission. When the election period comes, they engage close to about 700,00 to 900,000 people, who they engage all over Nigeria for the purpose and conduct of the election.

“A lot of manufacturing firms today, if they say they are going to engage everybody as a permanent employee, even the graduates, because there are certain functions that just unskilled personnel cannot be able to handle, you need to have somebody that has requisite qualifications.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks charged the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to strike a balance in the bill to ensure that casual workers in the country are not made victims of layoffs.

“The fact remains that we need employment for our people, especially our teeming youth on one hand.

“On the other hand, we don’t want discrimination.

“If we say no casualisation at all, some of our people could be victims of layoffs, and, of course, we know what casualization brings. You don’t have any entitlements outside of what you’re given immediately.

“So, we need to strike a balance to ensure that those who have to be employed on Adhoc basis – like one of our colleagues tried to show in INEC recruitments for example – and even in some of the sectors, don’t suffer too much, but that we emphasize getting permanent and pensionable appointments or employment opportunities for our people.

“I think the government has a role. While the government cannot employ everyone, we have the responsibility to create the environment or climate for employment opportunities to be available, either in government MDAs, or because the economy is good; private sector could engage even more than the government can do.

“So, we have the opportunity now to take this matter before the Nigerian public, and whatever we feel is the general view is what we should try to reflect when we finally pass the bill as we wish to because this is a very important and indeed a sensitive bill because we need to have a balancing act.

“If you say no casualisation in Nigeria at all, there’ll be consequences definitely. And, if you don’t say anything about it, some people will just be suffering – in the words of the sponsors of this bill – from the very devilish and evil treatment of those who employed them.”

The bill was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to report back within four weeks.

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Senate seeks to prohibit casual jobs for graduates in Nigeria

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