Last week the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress ably led by its President, Aliyu Wabba picketed MTN office in Lagos and other parts of the country for what they tagged the “casualization” of Nigerians recruited to work within the company. According to the NLC, the communication giant is in the habit of recruiting staffs as casual workers for three months, denying them the health and pension benefits permanent employment should ordinarily afford staff.
The Labour union over the years have protested this practice but without the government’s intervention, the situation has remained largely unchanged. In fact some staff members have spent fourteen years in the company with no security or permament status. The long term effect of this is that the affected staff won’t have access to pension, health insurance among other benefits leaving them at the mercy of their meagre salaries.
While opinions are divided on NLC’s decision to picket, it seems MTN is not alone in this unholy practice. Premium Times newspapers have just reported how Chevron Nigeria converted its graduate trainee staff into casual workers. The affected individuals were employed by the oil firm in March 2013 through its graduate trainee programs and have undergo several vocational trainings but their dreams of becoming a full staff in the company hangs in the balance as the company rather chose to casualise them until “organizational needs and business requirements”. This anti-Labour decision has put the careers of over 100 individuals in jeopardy. Several contemporary Nigerian tech startups are also guilty of this, most prominently Hotels.ng, which routinely hires ‘trainees’ and ‘interns’ who are required to perform full time jobs.
These two scenario of MTN and Chevron is one out of many in the country as many companies have resorted to casualization of workers in their bid to cut corners and make abnormal profits. Tales abound of individuals that have spent thirty years in some companies without a pension nor gratuity. The Ministry of Labour in the country is aware of this but have chosen to ignore the plight of these workers. Their inability to checkmate these practices have emboldened other entrepreneurs to go this route.
It is important the ministry of Labour investigate these cases casualization in MTN and Chevron to save thousands of Nigerians from modern day slavery.