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Labour vows to step up anti-casualisation campaign
By Prisca Egede

WITH a strong resolve to forestall a recurrence of the Ikorodu factory inferno which killed over 100 workers, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged all employers of labour, especially multinational companies (MNC's) to "abolish immediately all anti-labour practices that reduce workers to mere slaves".

The Congress threatened to picket all the multi-national companies, which refuse to heed to this appeal.

NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole who spoke against the background of the lackadaisical attitude of big business towards basic occupational health and safety requirements in the work place, warned that "from this month, we are now going to intensify our anti-casualisation stance with a renewed vigour and we are going to focus on big business such as Nestle, Cadbury, Guinness, Dunlop etc and they have a choice to turn the companies into war zones."

He said the reason labour was focusing on big business was because "we have discovered that it is these celebrated companies, more than the small-time Indian and Chinese employers that are the worse slave drivers. So for us, it is very strategic to expose them because by so doing, we will send a message across to the public that in spite of posting huge profits, they manage to treat their workers unfairly then the quality of their products as questionable."

Oshiomhole, who spoke yesterday in Lagos during a one-day national workshop on, "Promoting Industrial Harmony in the Economy'' organised by the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) described NLC's resort to picketing as a weapon against the widespread casualisation and contracting out of hitherto permanent jobs, as an attempt to "prick not just the conscience of capital and big business, but also to prick the conscience of the government, because the basis of commitment to this democracy which we made enormous sacrifices for is that even the workplaces must be free from all forms of dictatorship."

According to him, by resorting to these illegitimate forms of employment such as casualisation, outsourcing/ contracting of jobs which employers have embraced with a view of maximising profit, employers are just attempting to "revise all the gains of yester-years and some of the things labour thought we have gained through unionisation capital is trying to regain in one day."

He accused employers of becoming greedier, less caring, arrogant and returning to practices, which were abandoned in an attempt to give capitalism a human face.

In his submission, the (NECA)'s Director-General, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo said his association would not support the flagrant violation of the labour laws of the land by any of its members.

Reiterating the employers' 10-point position on the issues of casualisation, contracting/ outsourcing of jobs, he noted, that NECA, "supports the use of casuals within the context of the labour laws."

In this regard, he said that NECA supports the "regularisation of the appointment of all casuals that have been on the company's payroll beyond 90 days.

He added, however, that regularisation could take many forms, ranging from fixed term contract to regular employment depending on the nature of work with the company "applying going rules in the industry and deducting check-off dues for onward transmission to the union."

In the same vein, while stating NECA's support for "outsourcing of services in line with worldwide practice on the issue," he observed that NECA did not support the "roll-over of casual workers nor the casualisation of temporary employment."

In addition, employers will take it as their responsibilities to ensure that third party service providers comply with "statutory provisions in their relationship with their employees."

Against this background, Oshinowo who reiterated the union's interest in promoting decent work in the country, posited: "We in NECA share that aspiration and we are, therefore, prepared to work with the union to promote decent work in not only mainstream businesses but third party corporate bodies that work for our members."

 

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