Senate seeks to establish protection of domestic workers and employees

Sharon EboesomiMay 8, 20246 min

The Senate has decided to keep track of the migration of domestic workers from other countries, from State to State and from one employer to another employer for security purposes.

Senate seeks to establish protection of domestic workers and employees

The Senate has resolved to protect domestic workers and their employers against assaults, abuse and killing in some situations.

To ensure security for Nigerian citizens, the Red Chamber has also decided to keep track of the migration of domestic workers from other countries, from State to State and from one employer to another employer for security purposes.

This followed the second reading of a bill titled, “Bill for an Act to Provide for the Documentation and Protection of Domestic Workers and the Employers of Domestic Workers in the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and for other related matters.”

The Bill which was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, 21 November, 2023 was sponsored by Senator Babangida Hussaini (APC, Jigawa North West). 

In his lead debate, Senator Hussaini lamented over the incidents of assaults and abuse of domestic workers by their employers or hosts over the years. He said the abuses range from slave labour, physical abuse and sexual abuse 

He said, “The stories are gory, traumatic and mind-boggling, especially against the background that these domestic workers exist in the informal sector. They are unionists and they do not have a collective platform to speak for themselves and therefore remain ostensibly vulnerable and helpless. 

“On the other side of the coin, is the rise in the state of complication of crimes committed by domestic workers mostly in connivance with other criminal elements of society against their employers or host. These bother on burglary, kidnapping, stealing of children, and sometimes outright murder,” he added.

He noted that working-class parents from various social classes are under a lot of pressure because of urbanisation, rapidly expanding cities with heavy traffic in Nigeria like Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and other cities, forcing many of them to spend a lot more time at work and a lot less time at home. 

The resultant effect of this according to him, is that a large number of families, ranging in income from low to high, have accepted the fact that they must hire and depend on domestic workers to take care of their requirements at home.

It is saddening to note that a very vulnerable group of this category of domestic workers have been consistently played upon by their employers or hosts. These are mostly housemaids/boys, wards and extended family members. 

“A lot of these workers are unregistered and not supported by most national labour laws. They work for private households usually without clear terms of employment, particularly in our country.”

READ ALSO: State Police: Lagos Assembly backs creation, faults IGP stance 

Speaking further, he stated that there are international efforts to address the deplorable working conditions, exploitations and human rights abuses that domestic workers have to contend with as well as the lack of legal protection, which makes it difficult for them to seek remedies.

However, he noted that Nigeria is yet to have codified legislation that provides for the rights of domestic workers. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) came up with the Domestic Workers Convention 2011 (No 189). This groundbreaking treaty established the first global standards for domestic workers. The new standards encourage Governments to protect domestic workers from violence and abuse, to regulate private employment agencies that recruit and employ domestic workers and to prevent child labour in domestic work. Since that convention, many other countries have undertaken legislative reforms to bring their laws into compliance with the agreed international standards.

“Investigations have also shown that a significant percentage of gory crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, murder and highway robbery had been traced to the connivance of domestic workers of their victims. In the light of the composite security challenges we face today as a nation, it is therefore imperative and critical for this 10% Senate to urgently assist the law enforcement agencies with potent legislative interventions such as this very crucial bill.” 

“I want to say that whether we admit it or not, our country today is actually resting on the shoulder economically of unregistered, undocumented and unprotected Nigerians who are slaving away at the bottom of the totem pole of our country, unrecognised, unprotected, and of course, unrewarded,” he added.

Senator Simon Lalong (APC, Plateau South), narrated how a domestic worker was well-treated by the employer and educated up to the university level, where he graduated with a first-class degree.

Lalong, who is an immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment and Productivity noted that the domestic staff had performed better than the children of the employer while in school.

According to him, the worker got a better job after graduation and became the breadwinner of the family.

We all need domestic workers, but we also neglect them. We feel that our children are better than them, which is part of the problem,” he told the session.”

The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, however, objected to the establishment of a commission to regulate the recruitment, documentation, and protection of the rights of domestic workers and their employers and recommended that a department in the Ministry of Labour and Employment be saddled with that responsibility.

The bill was thereafter passed for a second reading and immediately referred to the Committee on Labour and Productivity to report back in four weeks.

Sharon Eboesomi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please email us - contents@orderpaper.ng - if you need this content for legitimate research purposes. Please check our privacy policy

  • JOIN OUR COMMUNITY

  • JOIN OUR COMMUNITY
    Close