Nigeria Ratifies ILO Conventions on Migrant Workers & Employment Agencies

On 23 March 2023, Nigeria deposited with the Director-General of the ILO the instruments of ratification of the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143) as well as the Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181).

By submitting the instruments of ratification, Nigeria becomes the 29th country in the world to ratify Convention No. 143, and the 38th to ratify Convention No. 181.

Convention No. 143 sets out measures to combat clandestine and illegal migration, while at the same time establishing the general obligation to respect the fundamental rights of all migrant workers. It also extends the scope of equality of treatment between legally resident migrant workers and national workers beyond the provisions of Convention No. 97 to ensure equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, social security, trade union and cultural rights, and individual and collective freedoms for persons who, as migrant workers or members of their families, are lawfully within the territory of a ratifying State. It also requires ratifying States to facilitate the reunification of the families of migrant workers legally residing in their territory.

Convention No. 181 has a two-fold objective: it provides for the establishment of a comprehensive framework for the registration, licensing, and effective regulation of private employment agencies as well as for the protection of all workers that use their services, including workers employed by temporary employment agencies for the purpose of making them available to a “user enterprise”. The Convention recognises the important role that private employment agencies can play in helping employers find workers with the right skills facilitating access to the labour market, especially for jobseekers in most disadvantaged situations, including people with disabilities, young jobseekers, older workers and migrant workers. As the world recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, the experience of private employment agencies in matching employers and jobseekers with decent work opportunities is critical to ensure resilient economies that can adapt to rapidly evolving labour markets.

By ratifying Conventions Nos. 143 and 181, the country reaffirms its commitment to promoting a brighter future of work for migrant workers, already expressed by Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97) in 1960. The protection of migrant workers recruited or placed in the territory of a member State is an essential element of ILO standards regarding migrant workers. With this ratification, Nigeria extends its efforts not only to combating clandestine and illegal migration and ensuring equality of opportunity and treatment for migrant workers, but also to promoting effective regulation of private employment agencies and the protection of all workers who use their services, including by Establishing a comprehensive framework for the registration, licensing, and effective regulation of private employment agencies and the protection of workers that use their services.

In his opening address to the 347th session of the Governing Body, the Director General, Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, stressed “It is the duty of the ILO to continue to fight against all forms of discrimination, exclusion and inequality at work, directed at all groups, including those most marginalized and most vulnerable, at the national, regional and global levels.” Convention No. 143 is bound to make a key contribution in this sense by establishing the basic rights and protections for migrant workers in an irregular situation and broadening pre-existing standards regarding equality of treatment for migrant workers in a regular situation. Furthermore, Convention No. 181 strengthens labour markets by balancing flexibility and job security, while also ensuring protection of the fundamental labour rights of workers.

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