“Lacasera Madness: imagine our pay; Nigerians -N30,000 monthly, Indians N800,000 monthly, government save us from hard labour”, “FG, please Lacasera workers are crying in pain and hunger, save our souls”, “President Buhari, please save us from Lacasera mgt”, “Indians stop your racist behaviour, vulgar language”, “Mahinda Vasuani, Lacasera staff are not slaves,” were some of the inscriptions on the placards.
He noted further, that the management asked to be given some time to think it over and return for a feedback.
“We returned in 2004 and they asked for time again, expressing their interest in having their workers join the union since it is their right, according to the Nigerian constitution, to have a freedom of association,” the union leader began.
Another section of the company’s workers during their protest
“They had kept postponing the day for the inauguration of the union since 2004 despite the fact that we have been easy on them with the issue.
“In August, we called a meeting with our members in the company, but to our surprise, the same excuses being given by the management of the company were presented to us again.
After the protest, these men insisted that work would not resume if they remain sacked
“We therefore decided to refer the case to the federal ministry of labour and productivity in Abuja, and in a reaction to our move, the company started laying off our members without any real excuse.
“On two occasions, they were invited by the ministry to Abuja, but they failed to turn up for the meetings, instead, they referred the case to the Industrial court.
“Their report was that our unionism is illegal.
A clarion call on the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, to save the workers from the Indian owners
“This was way beyond them, because that action can only be taken by the ministry of labour, and only on the condition that they are not satisfied with our actions.
“We sent our lawyer to the industrial court and while we were awaiting the verdict of the court, we realised last week, that the company had decided to lay off all the staff, unjustly.
Over 700 workers are being officially disengaged
“They are doing all of these things which they cannot accept in their country. We cannot accept injustice here whatsoever, because they cannot infringe on the rights of the workers,” Olatunji explained emotionally.
Stating what the union wants from the company, the leader said they are ready to dialogue with the management of Lacasera if they are willing to.
“If we are invited, we are ready for discussion. The federal ministry of labour is ready to intervene if they cannot reach an agreement with us,” he stated, adding that unless that happens, they will not allow the company open for operation.
Some of the staff who have been rendered jobless, told Naij.com that they had been living in ‘bondage’ under the Indians, as they have been treated as second citizens in their own country.
From left: Ibe Orum and another aggrieved worker at the front of Lacasera’s plant on Tuesday
Eniola Emmanuel, who has been working in Lacasera for about four and a half years, said he did not get any salary increase on his N22,000 basic, for three years.
“And when they were going to increase it sometime in April, I got just N2,000 on it. This was after a series of protest by our members.
“The Indian bosses rarely appreciate all we are doing. In fact, there was a disagreement between an Indian and a Nigerian here which led the Indian to kick our man on his penis.
Some of the workers on a queue to get refreshment from their leaders after their protest on Tuesday
“He called the Nigerian a black monkey and the management eventually sacked the Nigerian with the excuse that he was disrespectful to his superior,” the father of two lamented.
Another aggrieved worker, Ibe Orum, enthused that the management of the company treat the Nigerians workers badly, compared to the treatment meted out on their Indian colleagues.
Harold Appolo, one of the sales representatives in the company.
The truck driver said: “We want unionism in this place, that is the solution to all these problems.
“If we have union here, we shall get all our benefits and be treated equally with the Indians.”
One of the sales representatives of the organisation, noted that the management of the company does not allow them work freely, as they are always imposing reports on them.
The man, who identified himself as Harold Appolo, stated: “They reject the report we bring from our trips and tell us what they want to hear.
“Unionism will help us have all these things in order to avoid the repetition of the incident in the nearest future.”
Efforts to speak with the company’s welfare officer, Chief Edward Otomowor, whom the workers say is their link with the management, proved futile as phone calls put across to him were ‘diverted’.
This recent closure of the company, our correspondent gathered, has also set the management back to the tune of about N100 million as nothing has been effective in the organisation since the purported action.