Why Ethical Recruitment is Key to Protecting Nigerian Labour Migrants

The recent revelations of poor working conditions at Amazon and the issue of the fair treatment of migrant workers at the Qatar 2022 World Cup show that forced labour is endemic across our supply chains.

There are an estimated 27 million people who are victims of forced labour, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Many of these victims are low skilled Nigerian migrant workers who migrate outside of the ECOWAS region to fill labour shortages in various sectors such as construction and agriculture as well as services such as domestic work. Nigerian migrant workers often pay extortionate fees in their home country to cover the cost of their recruitment overseas. This amount, which can often equal a month’s wages, leads to migrants taking out large loans, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation. Many cannot escape exploitative jobs as they have to work to repay unscrupulous recruiters, trapping them in cycles of debt.

Promoting ethical practices in nigeria

In Nigeria, the Ethical Recruitment Agency (TERA) is working from the bottom up to protect individuals from forced labour. TERA in Nigeria aims to promote the importance of ethical practices among recruiters, migrant workers and international businesses who recruit Nigerian labourers.

We aim to support Nigerian migrant workers at every stage of the labour migration process – from recruitment and deployment, through to employment. At the recruitment stage, TERA aims to eliminate exorbitant recruitment fees to protect migrant workers from situations of debt bondage. At the pre-departure stage, we train and prepare workers for overseas jobs through our skills program which unlocks behaviours essential to success. At the employment stage, we work with employers to secure non-exploitative jobs for Nigerian labour migrants beyond the ECOWAS region, whilst ensuring end to end welfare monitoring of workers to protect them from forced labour risks.

Tangible effects on worker welfare

TERA’s research shows that ethical recruitment can generate tangible effects on worker welfare, and create positive outcomes for worker retention and productivity. For recruiters and businesses who are committed to practising their operations in an ethical and transparent manner, ethical recruitment enhances company reputations, increases brand attractiveness and opens access to potential new investors and markets. Businesses who practise ethical recruitment benefit from higher levels of workplace morale, lower staff turnover, and improvements in efficiency and profits.

Establishing safe and ethical recruitment procedures is critical for safeguarding Nigerian migrant workers from exploitation and forced labour. By shifting demand away from exploitative recruitment to more ethical practices, we can avoid the negative impact of debt bondage on workers and their families, and create long term systemic change in labour migration practices in Nigeria.