The late Gbadebo Richard. (Picture credit: https://campusnewsui.com/2020/07/29/richard-gbadebo-one-death-too-many/)

·         Calls on Organised Labour to Fight Sundry Anti-Labour Practices

THE Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) has decried the death of Gbadebo Richard, 21-year old 300 level student of the University of Ibadan at a soap-making factory in Ibadan, Oyo State Henkel Nigeria Limited, producers of WOW Soap, describing the tragedy as “unfortunate but avoidable incident.” Richard died on July 28, 2020.

CDWR in a statement on Monday, signed by Comrade Rufus Olusesan, National Chairperson, and Comrade Chinedu Bosah, Publicity Secretary, said Richard was a student full of hopes and aspirations but lost his life due to slave working conditions.

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“It was reported that Gbadebo Richard was crushed to death by a soap mixing machine he was operating while working specifically on a night shift in the company,” CDWR said while commiserating with the deceased’s family members and friends.

CDWR asked for adequate compensation for the family just as it demanded for an independent panel to be composed of elected representatives of trade unions, Ministry of Labour and pro-masses organisations to diligently investigate the circumstances surrounding Richard’s death.

Below is the full statement:

August 3, 2020

PRESS STATEMENT

THE DEATH OF GBADEBO RICHARD AT HENKEL NIGERIA LIMITED REVEALS THE DANGEROUS WORKING CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH NIGERIAN WORKERS GROAN IN MOST FACTORIES

CDWR CALLS ON LABOUR TO SPEARHEAD THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CASUALISATION, PRECARIOUS WORK AND OTHER ANTI-LABOUR PRACTICES

Gbadebo Richard’s death at Henkel Nigeria Limited, producer of WOW Soap, situated in Ibadan, Oyo State on July 28, 2020, was an unfortunate but avoidable incident. Gbadebo until his death was a 21-year old, 300 level student of the University of Ibadan (UI) with hopes and aspirations but lost his life due to slavery working conditions. It was reported that Gbadebo Richard was crushed to death by a soap mixing machine he was operating while working specifically on a night shift in the company. 

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.

SIGNED:

Comrade Rufus Olusesan                    Comrade Chinedu Bosah

National Chairperson                                 Publicity Secretary

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