The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) has called for the conduct of an independent investigation to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of 21-year old Richard Gbadebo.
OYOINSIGHT.COM reported that Gbadebo Richard, a 300 level student of the Department of European Studies, University of Ibadan died at one of the factories of Henkel Nigeria Limited, where he was a worker until his death.
CDWR in a press statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday stated that Richard’s death reveals the dangerous working conditions under which Nigerian Workers groan in most factories.
The group also commisserated with the family and demanded for appropriate compensation for them.
The press statement by the group read in part: “Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) commiserates with the family, friends and demands adequate compensation for the family. We also demand an independent investigation by a committee composed by elected representatives of trade unions, ministry of labour officials and pro-masses organizations to diligently investigate the circumstances surrounding Gbadebo Richard’s death, the culpability of the management of the company, recommend appropriate sanctions to the company management if found culpable and proffer ways to better protect workers and prevent future mishaps.
“The pursuit of cheap labour by the management of Henkel Nigeria Limited meant that late Gbadebo Richard was forced to operate a soap mixing machine, an aspect of work, he had no formal training or certification to do. This is what is overwhelmingly obtainable in most factories in Nigeria wherein workers are employed on low and precarious working conditions and are forced to carry out work they have no expertise for including working without safety work tools and in an unsafe environment. These are responsible for deaths and injuries in many factories.
“It would be recalled that in 2002, 37 Nigerian workers lost their lives during a fire outbreak at the West Africa Rubber Limited factory situated in Ikorodu, Lagos State. The death occurred due to slavery working condition wherein workers on night shift were normally locked up and so when fire broke out on September 16, 2002, they were trapped and lives were regrettably lost while many workers also sustained different degrees of burns and injuries. Despite this horrendous crime, government did not mete out the necessary and appropriate sanctions either to the management of the company or its owners.
“The usual practice of most factory and workplace managers/owners is to place workers on a casual, outsourcing contract employment status that lacks permanent employment status and better working conditions. Besides, poor wage, workers are equally denied rights to a trade union, basic entitlements including disengagement benefits, medical, leave allowances/bonus, and other basic allowances/entitlements.
“Poor working conditions vis-à-vis casualization has become a norm and widely practiced to guarantee huge profit for the bosses. The trade unions leaders are failing in their responsibility to resist these precarious working conditions while some trade unions like the Food Union (NUFBTE) have overtime assisted management to consolidate these anti-labour practices at the expense of Nigerian workers. The Ministry of Labour cannot also be exonerated from this kind of collaborationist policy as it always sides with managements who violate extant labour laws and perpetuate all manners of anti-labour practices.
“CDWR calls on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as their affiliates to lead a relentless struggle against casualisation, outsourcing, contract staffing and other anti-labour practices in order to guarantee better pay and working conditions for Nigeria Workers. We demand appropriate sanctions to be meted out to companies engaging in precarious working conditions. Fundamentally, Nigerian workers have to struggle to enthrone a working people government with a socialist program which will, among other things, entrenched enable the control and management of societal resources by the working masses to guarantee better living standards and conditions for all.”