The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the International Labour Organisation ILO, have stepped up sensitization on the Standard Operating Procedure SOP, for international recruitment of Nigerian migrant workers.
The two organizations are also bringing to the limelight, the use of the “Trade Union Guide on Return and Re-integration of Migrant Workers in Nigeria.”
These two documents have been prepared with the aim of not only helping the nation’s international migrant workers travel safely and legally but also maintaining their self-esteem and getting value for the time they spend working outside the shores of Nigeria.
At a one-day workshop for trade unions on SOP, the NLC General Secretary, Mr Emma Ugboaja, represented by the head of International of the NLC, Uche Ekwe, said that the NLC has consistently recognised that to be effective in the protection of human and labour rights of all workers including migrant workers, it has to be strategic in providing support to Nigerian migrant workers
He explained that this helps promote decent jobs and support returning migrants and migrant workers, to be readmitted and reintegrated in comfort and dignity.
“As part of NLC activities in contributing to the promotion of better labour migration governance, the congress has developed a Trade Union Information Guide on Return and Reintegration for Migrant Workers in Nigeria that should be given the necessary publicity and stakeholders sensitized on it.
“Also, the Congress is collaboration with the different stakeholders in the promotion of better migration governance in Nigeria, as such is using this workshop to expose and sensitise it affiliates focal persons on the National Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for International Recruitment of Nigerian Migrant Workers.
“This will contribute meaningfully to enhancing the capacity and position the NLC affiliates and other relevant stakeholders for effectiveness in promoting fair recruitment for migrant workers, better return and reintegration, and ultimately reducing the serious challenges faced by Nigerian migrant workers,” he said.
According to him, the workshop was put together by the NLC in collaboration with the ILO FAIRWAY Programme to carry out awareness creation and sensitisation of stakeholders as part of the series of initiatives and activities to support the Trade Unions effectiveness on labour migration governance, contributing to the implementation of the National Policy on Labour Migration and the broader engagement of Trade Unions in Nigeria.
At the end of the workshop, he said, it is expected that there will be increased awareness and sensitisation of workers’ organisations, their members and other relevant stakeholders in Nigeria on the SOP and the information guide to safeguard rights of migrant workers along the migration cycle.
“We have affirmed that fair recruitment and responsive governance are some of the ways to tame exploitation and abuses in the world of work, eliminate poverty and inequality.
“In essence, the pursuit of fair recruitment for all including migrant workers ensures that the migrants, their families, business, receiving and host economies all benefit. We shall continue to donate efforts in the realisation of this goal,” Ugboaja said.
Addressing the workshop, the Country Director of the International Labour Organisation ILO, Ms Vanessa Phala, said that the event which is convened as part of the country component of the FAIRWAY Global in Nigeria funded by the Government of Switzerland, targets addressing gaps identified in the level of awareness and stakeholders capacity to effectively contribute towards operationalizing what she called very important frameworks relating to the rights of migrant workers.
Noting that Standard Operating Procedures have been developed by the Government of Nigeria for purposes of facilitating effective international recruitment of Nigerian migrant workers and in fulfillment of the provisions of the 2004 Labour Act CAPL1LFN, “These SOPs not only demonstrates commitment of the Government to ensuring adequate safeguards for migrant workers are in place, but further highlight good practices that can be adopted in the area of labour migration governance.
“Complementarily, the Trade Union Information Guide on Return and Reintegration of Migrants & Migrant Workers in Nigeria provides easy and readily available guidance for returning migrants, thereby contributing to the national return and reintegration architecture.
“This Guide has been developed by the NLC within the framework of the FAIRWAY Programme and we note several ongoing activities in this regard, including the support towards operationalizing the union-union memorandum of understanding between workers representatives in Nigeria and Bahrain which forms an additional agenda,” she said.
She said that ILO’s strategy on labour migration and mobility in the African region is guided by its International Labour Standards (ILS) and Decent Work Agenda and implemented in close collaboration with the World of Work actors that is Ministries of Labour and workers’ and employers’ organisations.
“The agency’s rights-based approach takes into consideration labour market needs and covers all migrant workers irrespective of nationality and immigration status”.
The ILO also commended Nigeria’s recent country ratification of ILO Conventions 143 – Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, C 181 – Private Employment Agencies Convention as well as Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)
For the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, represented by Dr Sunday Onazi, the Head International Migrant recruitment, “The Federal Government is committed promoting fair and ethical recruitment of Nigerians seeking to migrate”.
He explained that the idea for the development of the SOP was necessitated by the desire to bring an end to abuses which Nigerian migrant workers were experiencing, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC).
The Ministry of Labour and Employment according to him, is implementing the recruiter license regime because without the regulation of the activities of private employment agencies, there will be a lot of unfair labour practices.
“It is a requirement of the recruitment agencies to bring the would be migrant workers to the Ministry for the conduct of pre-departure orientation seminars for the intending migrant,” Dr Onazi said.
In an interview, the Focal Person on migration, for the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr James Eustace, said that the organised labour wants to be part of return of Nigerian Migrants to the country.
He said that the SOP and the Trade Union Guide on labour migration are tools guiding international migrant work as many migrants are unaware of the laws guiding international labour migration.
Some of the concerns of trade unions according to him is“To provide information on the roles of relevant MDAs on international labour migration and to defend the socio, economic, political, cultural and environment of members who are returning among other concerns.”
There were goodwill messages from the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA and the Trade Union Congress TUC among others.