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Cablegate: Nigeria: Lagos Labor Unions Active; Potential For

VZCZCXRO4790
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0461/01 3241416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191416Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0307
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9949
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000461

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV SENV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LAGOS LABOR UNIONS ACTIVE; POTENTIAL FOR
E-WASTE PROGRAM

REF: ABUJA 2143

1. (SBU) Summary: During an October 8-13 visit to Lagos by Tu
Dang of the Office of International Labor Affairs and
Corporate Social Responsibility, local labor union officials
said that the use of casual labor in the oil industry is
their top concern. Labor leaders are also worried about the
safety of their union members working in the volatile Niger
Delta region. They singled out Shell as a particularly
difficult company to work with. Representatives from an
environmental NGO said Nigeria has inadequate e-waste
handling procedures and a tour of a local used electronics
market reinforced that conclusion. U.S. assistance in
developing an e-waste program or raising awareness of the
issue would be welcomed by the local labor and environmental
communities. End Summary.

2. (U) During meetings from October 8-13 with labor and trade
unions in Lagos, union officials explained to Dang and Poloff
that they are active in advocating for workers, rights and
frequently engage government in workplace issues. Dang met
Elijah Okougbo, General Secretary of the National Union of
Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Lumumba Okugbawa,
Deputy General Secretary of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior
Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Trade Union
Congress (TUC), and the Maritime Worker,s Union.

3. (SBU) At NUPENG and PENGASSAN, the oil industry unions
which are the most powerful labor organizations in Nigeria,
both officials stated that their number one concern is the
casualization of workers by international oil companies.
Casualization entails hiring short-term contract employees
and providing limited benefits, while using these temporary
workers over the long-term to avoid hiring permanent
employees. The lack of standardized conditions of service
and contracts, particularly for long-term workers, has led
both organizations to negotiate permanent conditions of
service for both lower-level and management-level employees.
Both claim to have been successful overall with Chevron and
ExxonMobil, but state that Shell continues to be problematic
in its hiring practices, leading to further tension with the
company. They stated that Shell,s attitude toward local
workers may be motivation behind attacks on Shell
installations in the Delta. They also complained about
expatriate oil workers taking jobs that should be filled by
Nigerians.

4. (SBU) Both NUPENG and PENGASSAN are deeply concerned about
what one NUPENG official called the &bastardization of human
rights8 by militants who put workers and villagers in
harm,s way and the dangerous conditions of work in the oil
region. The unions are pressing for safer working and
traveling conditions, particularly in the waterways of the
southern states. While the officials have engaged in
industrial relations and conflict management training, both
indicated a desire to obtain further training in trade union
management and negotiation skills.
5. (U) Dan Uhumangho, of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), an
umbrella organization for smaller trade unions, raised more
general labor issues, including the casualization of labor,
employers who discourage workers from unionizing, and the
benefit of implementation of HIV/AIDS policies in all sectors
of labor. TUC has worked on several USG sponsored projects
with the Solidarity Center, and expressed a desire to obtain
more training and participate in any related labor programs.
The Maritime Worker,s Union representative, Onikolease
Irabor, expressed similar concerns about casualization of
dockworkers, and problems relating to conditions of service
due to recent concession and privatization of the port.

E-Waste Handling in Lagos is Inadequate
----------------------------------------

6. (U) Dang and Poloff met with Gbolahan Adedotun of The
Center for Environment Education and Development, an
environmental non-governmental organization, to discuss the
issue of disposal of old computer and electronics parts, or
e-waste. Adedotun indicated that e-waste in the Lagos area
is not separated from other solid waste and poses dangers for

LAGOS 00000461 002 OF 002


workers employed in waste management, electronics factories,
and local markets where used computer parts are traded. A
visit by Poloff and Dang to &Computer Village8, a large
computer and electronics market in Lagos, confirmed that
there are no formal procedures for disposing of unusable
electronic equipment, which is generally collected from the
streets in wheelbarrows and then taken to a large dumpsite,
where all the waste is sorted through by persons scavenging
for food or useable items.

7. (SBU) Comment: The trade unions in Lagos are clearly
committed to improved working conditions and labor rights on
issues of concern such as casualization of workers, HIV/AIDS,
and safety and security. The more mature oil-related unions
have developed effective models of operation and negotiation,
while smaller unions still struggle with limited resources
that hinder their level of influence. Although some contacts
were aware of the e-waste issue, discussions showed that
there is little understanding of its dangers, and there is a
general misconception that only a small group of informal
workers will be affected. Post believes an e-waste program
would be beneficial to workers in the electronics and waste
management sector, as well as diminish the impending
environmental and health issues caused by e-waste. End
Comment.

8. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja.
BLAIR

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