Should Labour Supply Contracts Be Regulated in Nigeria?
There is a form of exploitation in the Nigerian ‘labour supply’ business which I find really unfair. It is the habit of labour supply contractors charging their clients high rates to supply labour (skilled and unskilled) and then ending up underpaying the supplied labour.
Although I am yet to read the Labour Act of 1990, I want to believe that our NASS might need to look at that law again and impose some sort of regulations on labour suppliers.
While many would argue that is unprofessional for government to regulate the profit margin of businesses in Nigeria, I personally think it is equally unprofessional and even unethical for government legislature to allow employers exploit the labor market by doing nothing about the injustice.
Most of the security guards working in our banks, hotels, etc are officially paid as high as 85k per month. Yet, the company they work for only pay them below 40k. In other words, a labour supply contractor who supplies ten security staff to a bank at the rate of 85k per person and pays the same person 40k is actually making over a 100% profit while the man doing the real job and taking all the risks goes home with just 40k. To me, this is unfair and the federal government needs to look into it. There should be a standard margin as to what a labor supply contractor get from the wages of the supplied labour. Anything above 25% should be kicked against by the government. I am more particular about ‘labour supply’ contractors.
While I admit that capitalism has become an inevitable consequence of modern socioeconomic relations, I still believe that through government legislative interventions, the capitalist quest for profit can be regulated in the interest of the labourers whose existence should be the top most concern of every sensible government.
My major worry about resolving this kind of labor issue through the Nigerian legislature is that most of our lawmakers are deeply involved in this act of exploitation. For example, most of our lawmakers have the habit of deducting money from the approved salary of their aides! Most lawmakers deduct as high as 70% of the expected salary of their aides before paying them. I have personally witnessed this. How can such a legislative house full of such lawmakers have the moral courage to solve this kind of problem? In Delta State for example, some years back, a state lawmaker was so determined to continue with the habit that he openly publicly engaged one of his aide over this issue. I think the state government changed the payment arrangement and somehow the aides began to receive their full payment directly. Even at that, some lawmakers insisted that once the aides get their pay directly, they release a certain part of it to them as it were or lose the job. And this later became a serious issue between lawmakers and their aides.
I am not saying that people should not make profit from doing ‘labour supply’ contracts, I am only saying that, because this particular kind of contract involves ‘human beings’ who have families and needs, government should ensure that the labourers get as high as 75% of the total amount a client pays for their labour. Contractor’s profit on human labor should be regulated. Appropriate laws should be made to ensure that this is achieved.
While I believe that the Laissez-faire economic system is good, government should from time to time, intervene in the system when it perceives that a new form of exploitation is born. We cannot continue to allow labor supply contractors to exploit Nigerians simply because there are too many unemployed people in the society. Despite the fact that Nigerians are compelled to do risky jobs for low pay due to high unemployment rising to unreasonable competition which favours the employer, the government should still step in to set a standard. Our NASS needs to set a standard for labor supply contracts, especially unskilled labor like security personnel, etc. It was even rumored that Nigerian soldiers fighting in the North-Eastern part of the country are entitled to 5,000Naira per day allowance as out posting allowance, yet they get less than 1k per day. It will be unfortunate to know that even our government officials are directly involved in this exploitative business, how then can they regulate the private players?
The interest of the people should be placed before the interest of profit. It is government’s duty to guarantee that this principle is protected in all businesses operating in the country.