Cablegate: Nigeria: Labor Update

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) Lagos 462 (B) Lagos 146

Banks become the first casualty in labor's renewed battle
over casualization

1. On March 2, approximately 30 of the 56 Nigerian banks
accused by the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) of engaging in
anti-labor practices announced their decision to reduce
contract labor and allow their employees to unionize (ref
A). However, many banks have reluctantly implemented the
new policy. A Citibank Manager, for example, told the CG
that his employees met with the unions in a parking lot at
night, adding that there was no way the bank would let union
organizers into the building.

2. Following the banks' concession, the Ministry of Labor
and Productivity, the NLC, and industry representatives
agreed to develop a house union structure allowing industry
employees to join the National Union of Banks, Insurance and
Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) or the
Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and
Financial Institutions Employees (ASSBIFIE). The process
began in mid-March and is being monitored by a joint
committee comprised of representatives from the Ministry of
Labor and Productivity, the NLC, the Nigerian Employers
Consultative Forum (NECA), and the Chartered Institute of
Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

3. The agreement is a victory for the NLC, an organization
whose leadership is struggling to maintain credibility both
internally and among the Nigerian public. Labor leaders
have indicated that their dispute with banks pertaining to
the use of contact work is a first step toward a nationwide
campaign against "casualization"; that is, part-time,
intermittent, or temporary workers.

NLC threatens to resume strike over petroleum tax

4. The NLC has again issued a threat to resume its
suspended strike if the GON continues allegedly to disobey a
court order that prohibits it from collecting a 1.50 Naira
fuel tax (ref B). The NLC wrote a letter to the Secretary
of the Federal Government of Nigeria alleging that the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other
marketers continue to incorporate the fuel tax in their

5. In January, the Federal Appeals Court ruled that both
parties should return to pre-tax prices pending its official
decision. The parties were also ordered to work together to
resolve the dispute. However, NLC lawyer, Femi Falana, told
the court during its last hearing, that there has been no
dialogue between the NLC and the GON. While the NLC is
considering a plan to mobilize the public, it will likely
defer action until after the court returns from recess in

Dispute over benefits at ExxonMobil leads to a lockout

6. Bayo Olowoshile, Deputy General Secretary of the
Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of
Nigeria (PENGASSAN), met with Laboff on March 8, 2004, to
request assistance in resolving a three-year old dispute
regarding staff pensions and other benefits at ExxonMobil.
Olowoshile explained that the package for ExxonMobil
downstream employees, as a percentage of total remuneration,
is not consistent with the package offered to upstream
employees. In addition, he said the benefits given to
downstream employees are as much as thirty percent below
industry standards. By early March, the dispute had
escalated, resulting in a lockout of several employees at
Mobil Oil Plc. However, on March 16, ExxonMobil and
PENGASSAN signed an agreement to reexamine the benefits of
workers downstream, and the locked-out Mobil employees were
allowed to return to work.


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