A bill seeking to outlaw the casualisation of employment in the private and public sector in Nigeria passed second reading in the Senate on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

The bill wants to cancel the culture of company’s employing contract staff in the workforce.

Many lawmakers agreed that it is detrimental to the nation’s economy as contract employees are typically employed on a non-permanent basis without benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and other compensation enjoyed by full-time employees.

Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central – PDP), who is sponsoring the bill described casualisation of employment as an immoral strategy of cutting cost by employers.

In his words: “Workers no longer have regularised employment terms; therefore, Nigerian graduates are treated like second-class citizens in their own country, while foreigners from underdeveloped countries from Asia like India, Pakistan, Lebanon, etc, with less qualifications to Nigerian graduates are placed as managers above Nigerian graduates,” he said.

The lawmaker said the practice was making work less secure as workers are recruited and fired at will, and subjected to inhumane working conditions.

He argued that passing the bill into law would put Nigerian graduates in their rightful place to add value to the Nigerian economy in all ramifications.

While the lawmaker was joined by a majority of lawmakers in supporting the bill, some warned about its potential impact, especially in the private sector.

Senator Tokunbo Abiru (Lagos East – APC) said employers in the private sector seek efficiency in business especially since they already have to provide for a lot of structure meant to be shouldered by the government.

He said the issue around contract servicing is already well-defined in the private sector, and that the bill could have terrible consequences for Nigerian workers and the unemployed.

“If we go this route, part of what we’ll find is we’ll increase the unemployment rate because what the private sector will do is the normal job for a man today can be increased for three or four people,” he warned.

Senator Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central – APC), and Senator Sani Musa (Niger East – APC) also reinforced some of the concerns raised by Abiru, and advised that the bill be reviewed to address them.

The bill was unanimously passed for a second reading when Senate President, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North – APC), put it up to a voice vote.

Senator Akinyelure said the bill will protect vulnerable workers against unfair labour practices, impose legal duty on employers to convert casual employment to permanent status after three months of engagement, and criminalise casualisation.

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