NLC pickets furniture coy in Abuja over sack of 200 workers



By Joan Nwagwu

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has picketed Alibert Production (Furniture) Limited, Abuja, over the reported sack of 200 workers.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this when he led the workers to picket the firm’s factory in Idu on Friday in Abuja.

The picketing was in commemoration of the 2022 World Day for Decent Work with the theme: ”Wage Justice”.

The company has been alleged of incessant violation of workers’ rights such as victimisation, intimidation and unfair labour practice, among others.

The workers that picketed the company displayed placards with various inscriptions such as: “Yes to Decent Work’’,   “Yes to collective bargaining and social dialogue’’, “No to casual and contract work! “Unionism is our rights,’’ among others

According to Wabba, it is on record that they disengaged more than 200 workers and only to engage them back on contract basis.

“They do not have social security over, no pension, they hire and fire every day, this were the same workers they have had a relationship with and a contract of employment. This is a shame.

“Our law does not allow for that. Our law allows only for decent work. This is why we are here, because of the fact that these workers are not slaves.

“Modern day slavery had been abolished by the International Labor Organisation(ILO) and by Nigerian laws.

“The issue of hiring and firing every day without a contract of employment has been abolished.

“That is why we are here to send a very strong message that this must be corrected else, we will then take a full swing of the trade union action and also deliver a message, ‘he said.

The NLC president said that the company replied, “yes these issues have happened and we are ready to make amend.’’

According to Wabba, in making amend, there must be a timeline, ”because we learnt that this place is like a prison yard.

“Once a worker enters, he cannot get out, you must work under a condition that is similar to slavery.

“If you remember comrades, that is how workers died in a fire incident in Ikordu in Lagos and until now those workers have not been paid compensation, we do not want that to happen here.

“We want workers in Nigeria to work under a condition of dignity, as workers here are not different from workers around the world,’’he said.

Wabba, therefore, called on employers of labour to ensure they read the Nigerian law that states that workers have rights.

“Employment is a contract between an employer and employees, so they are not salves, ‘‘he said.

Also, Mr Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary while presenting a letter of complaint to the Human Resources Manager of the firm, Mr Adisa Shuiabu ,gave it two weeks to address the complaints.

According him, ”we write to implore your management to act quickly to address the following complaints by workers in your company:

“Heavy casualisation of your workforce, refusing your workers their inalienable rights to unionise, hiring and firing workers at will.

“Others are invitation of the police and traditional rulers to intimidate and harass workers in your establishment.

“These violations are fundamentally in the breach of ILO Conventions 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

“Also, Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining and also Convention 190 on Workplace Violence and Harassment which Nigeria just ratified a few days ago,’’ he said.

On the commemoration of the 2022 World Decent Work Day, Ugboaja urged the company to convene a meeting to address the dispute.

He said the meeting should be held with the representatives of workers’ organisations in the workplace of the National Union of Construction Engineering Civil Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), to address the concerns.

“We also urge you to put in place measures to ensure that there is effective collective bargaining mechanism and industrial dispute processes in your organization.

“We are here because forced labour and modern day slavery are being practised here,’’he said.

Also, Shuiabu, who received the letter on behalf of the company promised that the management would do the needful.(NAN)