The delegate conference of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) is currently taken place in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, Nigeria. The Campaign for Workers’ Alternative, CWA, issued a special solidarity leaflet on the need for the union to support the struggle for the reinstatement of the victimized workers of Dangote Pasta. This leaflet is reproduced below.
Demand for Reinstatement of the Victimized Dangote Pasta Workers
It is more than 21 months since over 200 workers of Dangote Pasta plant in Ikorodu, Lagos were sacked for exercising their right to associate. They were sacked for joining a union, National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE).
The rights to association and trade union rights are fundamental human rights fought for by the working class years ago. These rights have even been enshrined in the United Nations declaration of Human Rights.
That workers are been denied these rights today confirms the extreme greediness and inhumanity of the so-called employers of labour. What they want are slaves who would work under terrible conditions, for long hours and with very low pay. They are interested in only intensifying the exploitation of workers, i.e. maximization of profit.
Today, Aliko Dangote owner of Dangote Groups is said to be the richest African and the fiftieth richest man in the world. Dangote groups of companies are noted for denying workers all their rights.
We can see the direct link between huge wealth of the rich elite to the poverty of the mass majority. Denying the right of workers to organize allows for intensification of exploitation.
Workers built Trade Unions over the years to defend their interests, such as defending their right to a living wage, fighting for healthy working conditions, pensions, reasonable working hours, etc.
Management is not always interested in these issues, as they are only interested in profits. This is why they remain hostile to the idea of workers forming associations, trade unions.
It is not surprising that Dangote Pasta workers desire to set up a trade union in order to defend their interests in the face of the crude drive to make profit at their expense. Workers were and are still subjected to low pay compared to the huge profits they create for Dangote, working conditions remain terrible, long working hours, casualization, etc.
The struggle for trade unionism in Dangote Pasta has been on for more than 10 years. In 2004, 8 workers who were union officials were sacked. It took long years of legal action by NUFBTE to get them reinstated in 2009-2010. Part of the agreement with Dangote Pasta management then was that the workers are now free to join the union. In line with this agreement, workers inaugurated a branch of NUFBTE on August 11 2010 but three weeks after the official inauguration of the union August 30, workers who joined the union were crudely sacked.
Management hired thugs to took over the factory and dismantle the union. The elected union officials were ruthlessly beaten and thrown out of the factory.
Life since the Victimization
Since the sackings, life has been quite bitter to the affected workers. Some have died; many have been incapable of meeting up with most of their expenses. Many children have been withdrawn from schools, many have been evicted for inability to pay house rent, many have health issues, which they cannot address due to poverty, and the list is endless.
One female worker developed cancer, Aifegha Lona, and is still in agony. The national leadership of NUFBTE commendably donated N100,000.00 to assist in her medical bill with the promise to contribute more in the future.
United Workers’ Action Needed
Dangote Pasta workers have displayed over the past months that they are heroes and are capable of fighting for their rights in spite of the sackings and continued attacks by Dangote.
They have continued to put pressure on Dangote management and they have continued to keep the struggle alive.
Dangote has the mainstream media in his pocket and has tried to stop the reporting of this injustice.
The national leadership of NUFBTE issued a 21-day ultimatum to the management of Dangote Pasta, which expired on Tuesday 24/4/12.
It is unfortunate that the national leadership of NUFBTE had been slow on this issue; however, the declaration of ultimatum is a step forward.
With a national mobilization of workers, no doubt the Dangote Pasta management would grant concessions. A national plan of action is therefore needed, which should include a program of picketing Dangote plants nationally and solidarity strikes.
Support the Demand for:
The reinstatement of all victimized Dangote Pasta workers with full compensation.
The right of workers to join or set up trade unions.
Issued by Campaign for Workers’ Alternative, CWA
24 April 2012