FG Pledges Commitment to Protect Employees’ Conditions of Service

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Chris Ngige

Ugo Aliogo

As part of efforts to protect and defend the rights of casual and permanent workers in the public and private sector, the Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngigi, has expressed displeasure against oppressive terms of employment, stating that the federal government would discourage unfavourable workers’ conditions of service.

He added that the law on employment provides that if an individual is offered temporary appointment, the person must be confirmed after a while, adding that in some establishments, the time frame is either six months or a year.

“The law on employment says if you give an individual temporary appointment, you must confirm him after a while. In some places, it is six months, while in some it is one year.

“You must confirm the individual and give him/her conditions of services, then the individual will accept. It is what the labour industry prescribes,” Ngige said.

Ngige, who disclosed this yesterday in Lagos during a three-day retreat on the Review of the National Labour Bills, noted that the federal government frowned against adhoc employment which is known as casualisation.

He explained that once a casual worker overstays in a particular establishment, the worker should report such unlawful act.

The minister, however, added that because of unemployment and the way it has negatively affected the industry, “those persons on casualisation are afraid to come forward.”

According to him, “In most cases, the workers involved want to preserve what they are doing and earning because of the fear that the employers will terminate their employment.

“But we are assuring them that we will protect them, and this is what we want to do with some of these laws.”

Also reacting to the issue, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, said the concept of outsourcing services and contract labour must be respected and defined.

He added that in all forms of employment, workers’ rights and labour laws must be respected, explaining that workers should not be treated as slaves.

Wabba hinted that the difference between Nigeria and other climes especially in the labour market is that in Nigeria, contract staffers are treated as slaves, their salaries are lower than the regular staffers.

“In most cases, they don’t have the work benefits such as social security benefits, maternity leave and other entitlements that permanent employees enjoy.

“We should insist that in every form of employment, there should be minimum standards including minimum wage, so that there is no exploitation whether you are in public or private employment.

“This is the reason why in many countries, there is the issue of minimum wage standards in order to prevent exploitation. We must focus on some social benefits, the dignity of labour and the need to ensure that standards are maintained and sustained,” he said.