The growth of agency labour in the Nigerian oil industry and its challenges for trade union organisation

Itegboje, JO 2018, The growth of agency labour in the Nigerian oil industry and its challenges for trade union organisation , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Over recent years amidst intensified and unrelenting global economic competitive pressures that have shaped the business environment within which organisations operate, many employers in both the private and public sectors in different countries around the world have responded by seeking to reduce labour costs through the specific mechanism of non-standard forms of employment (Forde and Slater, 2010; Teicher et al. 2006; Sanchez, and Schmitz, 200; Kalleberg 2000). This process has taken a particularly sharp form within the highly strategically important Nigerian oil industry, giving rise to a contemporary labour market characterised by widespread flexibility of work. It has resulted in a significant decline in so-called ‘standard forms of employment’ involving regular, permanent work alongside an alarming growth in ‘non-standard forms of employment’ involving vulnerable, precarious work (Adenugba and Jawadu, 2014; Kalleberg, 2009; Evans et al. 2007; Connelly and Gallagher, 2006). With the growing trend towards the agency workers through the use of employment agencies, there has been the emergence and consolidation of two-tier work arrangements involving differential employment relations contracts (Burgess et al. 2013:4084). Adopting a Marxist analytical framework, this thesis examined the ways in which the shift from direct-standard employment to a triangular employment relation in a crucial Nigerian arena of employment has become an increasing source of collective conflict within the employment relationships, between workers and their unions on the one hand, and the employers on the other. In the process, it considers the challenges and dilemmas for trade unions attempting to defend the terms and conditions of employment of different groups of workers, as well as the limits and potential of solidaristic forms of union within a highly fragmented context. The research study has been framed on a critical realism paradigm, with a focus on a mixed methods approach involving questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. These involved the management, trade unions, ministry of labour and employment, employment agencies, and workers on different employment contracts within three of the main Nigerian multinational oil companies, namely Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron. The multi-dimensional evidence explains the basic factors that have given rise to the growing trend of agency workers, the impacts of this trend on employment relationships, and the dynamics of trade union organisation and resistance. Findings suggest that the growth of agency workers in the Nigerian oil industry has led to an entrenching of dual and fractionalised internal labour markets and an increase in managerial control, with an accompanying undermining of the coverage and effectiveness of collective bargaining and trade union representation and organisation. Evidence is provided that documents the way the oil industry trade unions, while not able to successfully oppose the growing trend of agency labour, have nonetheless attempted to mitigate and challenge the encroachment of work arrangements amongst workers on standard forms of employment, but have been confronted with enormous challenges in attempting to collectively organise and represent agency workers in the industry. The findings of this thesis could help in understanding the implications of change in employment relations, and contribute to overcoming the current limits of thinking with regard to the use of agency workers, and furthers the current discussion on the ‘high-road decent work principles and equality’ of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Depositing User: JO Itegboje
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2018 13:50
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:11

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