Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Ogun State has threatened showdown with Chinese quarry operators who allegedly treat Nigerian workers “like animals.”
The NLC expressed worry that many quarries owned by Chinese companies in the state treat their workers badly in terms of condition of service and remuneration, deploying what they termed “use-and-dump tactics.”
The NLC State Chairman, Emmanuel Bankole spoke at the weekend during a meeting with representatives of the quarry owners at the NLC Secretariat, Abeokuta.
The meeting which was facilitated by the State chapter of Nigeria Union of Mine Workers (NUMW) was attended by the Federal Comptroller of Labour, Comrade Anthony Olawoyin, the Federal Mining Officer, Bunmi Ayelabola, and the Chairman of the State NUMW, Comrade Fasiu Abiola.
According to the NLC Chairman, the quarry operators, apart from poor condition of service, have no adequate provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect workers from hazards.
“Information at our disposal revealed that many quarries owned by the Chinese, operating in the State hire Nigerians for cheap labour. They hire and fire at will; they use Nigerians as casual workers.
“The NLC law says a company is only allowed to employ a worker as casual staff for six months, after which such worker must be made a staff; but these quarries employ Nigerians for more than 27 years as casual workers,” he said.
Bankole alleged that many of the quarries do not allow their workers to unionise, saying “Unionisation is a fundamental human right that nobody and no employer can take away. If people are willing to unionise, you cannot take it away from them. They are free to unionise, to join any union of their choice.”
“The NLC shall take this no more, we are ready to contend with you (quarry owners). This is Nigeria and we will not allow anybody under any guise to come to Nigeria and use Nigerians anyhow they want. This is a country that is governed by rules and regulations.
“This meeting is not to witch hunt anybody but we are doing this for our country. It is because Nigeria is good, that they (Chinese) are here to do business. If Nigeria is not conducive, they will go back to their country. But this is our own country, and we have nowhere to go. This is why we owe it a duty to protect the weak,” Bankoke said.
While responding, one of the representatives of the quarry operators, Fase Olukayode denied the allegations.
Olukayode, a consultant to CCECC quarry, a Chinese company said, “As far as we are concerned, these allegations are not true. For the quarries that I’m consulting for, we have union, we have union leaders on our sites and there is no way the union will be looking at the Chinese maltreating our people; this is not possible,” he said.