The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday shut down a Chinese company, Shaanxi Construction Engineering Group Corporation, over what it described as dehumanising condition of workers in the company.
The union arrived at the company located at the new headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Lugbe, Abuja as early as 7:30am. There was initial resistance as the gate of the company was locked against the protesting union and its picketing team but was later opened by the management.
The management of the construction company did not speak on the protest or respond to the allegations raised by labour. The Chinese government had undertaken to build the new ECOWAS Secretariat as part of an aid package to the community.
Addressing the protesting workers, General Secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, lamented the alleged inhumane treatment meted out to workers at the construction site, Daily Trust reports. He said the Chinese company engaged the workers on an ad hoc basis with no conditions of service attached or any welfare or medical services in place.
He lamented that one of the workers, a driver identified as Mr Augustine, died due to neglect and lack of timely medical attention. “No pension, no gratuity, no food, no water and no explanation, where will help come from? Every day, we plead with the government to provide a minimal social security floor, to no avail. That is the challenge we have. This challenge is real,” Ugboaja said.
The NLC scribe said while the picketing action would continue, the leadership of labour hoped to engage the management of the company in a discussion.
Narrating her ordeal, the wife of the late driver, Mrs Augustine, said the company failed to take her husband to the hospital and also did not allow him to go home for treatment.
“When they eventually permitted him to go home, his situation worsened. He had a swollen neck and looked highly malnourished,” she said. The woman said she took her husband to the Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital in Abuja and later to the National Hospital where he died. She said the Chinese company failed to heed her pleas for assistance and instead issued a termination letter to her husband.