Written by Ayo Ayodeji Monday, 16 May 2011 03:02
Since the attack on Sadhawnis workers in February 2011, life has been quite unbearable for the 55 sacked workers. The attack by management on the workers could not have been possible without the active collaboration of the National leadership of their union, NUCFRLANMPE. (Check out the March/April 2011 Edition of the Workers’ Alternative).
The management of Sadhawnis Nigeria Limited after exploiting the workers for years, subjecting them to one of the most inhuman working conditions and exposing them to highly toxic chemicals decided to suck more blood from the workforce by retrenching half of the workforce.
The retrenchment plan had been on the agenda for a while but was resisted by the local union; however, in early February 2011, the management sacked a worker, Oladipupo Ismail, without reason. This triggered off a workers’ protest. The management responded by locking out workers brought in the police and embarked on the earlier planned retrenchment of half the workforce using the crudest methods.
All government agencies were not notified of the process as requested by law; even the workers involved were not officially notified via letters. Though the Nigerian labour laws are quite anti-workers, the Sadhawnis management violated most aspect of the laws. Their names were just pasted at the gate and they were told to report at the gate a day later to collect their payoff. The payoff was gross underpayment.
Workers who were not aware of the development lost out completely.
The fact that many workers have developed health issues due to the toxic chemicals they were exposed to did not bother the management.
Since the February attack, the workers involved have remained determined to challenge this gross injustice rather than getting completely demoralized and live with their fate. There are several cases of similar attacks in which the workers became demoralized and were forced to accept the injustice.
They have remained united and continued to organize. They have held series of meeting raised funds to raise a legal team and continue to call for justice within the national union, NUCFRLANMPE.
They have sued the management of Sadhawanis over their wrongful termination and are seeking for compensation for the various health damages they suffered while working in factory.
Chemical in the blood
The biggest injustice of all is the fact that the workers were collectively exposed to toxic chemicals, which has currently damaged the health of many; some are already coughing out blood. Others will live a life of uncertainty has the effects of the chemical may be delayed. For this damage, they were paid next to nothing. The highest payoff is three hundred thousand!
Hell in Sadhawanis
The workers who returned to work are currently living in hell on earth. Their condition is far worse now. The pressure of joblessness accounts for why they still have to stay in subhuman condition.
On reopening the factory, management cancelled all leave, increased shift with little pay and threatened to sack anybody without notice.
Solidarize with the workers
The national leadership is not making matters ease. As the union has the capacity to challenge the condition in Sadhawnis but that is not the case now.
The attitude of an injury to one is an injury to all should be the motto of the struggle. Currently, the issue of Sadhawnis is been raised in units of local union under NUCFRLANMPE. It is importance that the campaign is sustained and workers continue to solidarized with the affected workers.