CASUALISATION IS ANTI-WORKER
CASUALISATION IS ANTI-WORKER
Dura Pack Workers Hold One-month Strike Against Casualisation And Unfair Labour Practices
(By Chinedu Bosah, Publicity Secretary Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR)
Casualisation is a condition wherein workers are made to work without regularized status and are subjected to employment insecurity that attracts little or no benefits in terms of emoluments, allowances etc. However, some factors are responsible for casualisation, (1) the anti-labour and pro-bourgeois character of the ruling capitalist elite including those occupying political offices (2) the weakness of the trade union movement and (3) the growing mass unemployment and joblessness that forces people to accept all kinds of slavery condition.
Some pro-labour groups affiliated to Joint Action Front (JAF) including Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) joined some trade unions in a mass rally to sensitize the public against casualisation, contract staffing and indecent work practices. The rally took place on October 7, 2013 and was meant to celebrate the “Decent Work Day”, a day set aside by International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The leadership and activists of National Union of Chemical, Footwear and Non-Metallic Workers (NUCFRLANMPE), National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) etc., participated in the rally. The protesters converged at the Textile Labour House at Acme Road, Ikeja.
The protest march raised public awareness against casualisation and contract staffing and picketed two companies (Majestic Sack Ltd and Dura Pack Industries). Management of Majestic Sack agreed to recognize textile union (NUTGTWN) and to subsequently negotiate working condition. However, Dura Pack management refused to recognize the union (NUCFRLANMPE) despite the fact that workers had filled union forms and elected a 7-man leadership to lead the workers. The Dura Pack workers embarked on a strike on October 8, 2013 to press home their demands.
The workers were demanding for the following: 1. Increment in salary, 2. Regularization of workers through issuance of letter of employment to all workers and negotiate with workers a new condition of service, 3. Well structured documentation of salary including paying workers with pay slips, 4. Reinstatement of Mr. Christian Orji without loss of pay and an end to all forms of victimization of workers, 5. Adequate safety tools to be provided for all workers, 6. All workers must have a right to proceed on annual and sick leave without loss of pay, 7. Well equipped sick bay within the premises, 8. Reduction of work hours from 12 hours to 8 hours per day and increase in salary.
The workers are wantonly and unlawfully fired; worse still without compensation or entitlement. Mr. Christian Orji who had worked in the company for seven years was the latest victim of this anti-worker and brutal conduct of Dura Pack management. He was told on June 18, 2013 that his service was no longer needed and asked to sign a resignation letter already prepared by the management. He bluntly refused the outrageous order and since then he has been illegally sacked by the management without paying his salary. Due to lack of safety tools a worker Mr. Kenneth died of electrocution on 16th of April 2013, an action that sparked off a one day strike on April 17 2013.
The management threatened that it would rather close production than recognizing the union. After two weeks management tried to break workers resolve using police, threats and security cameras. Workers remained steadfast. On October 25, 2013, JAF mobilized its affiliates and the press for a protest/rally in front of the company. JAF Secretary, Abiodun Aremu called on the workers to be steadfast and demanded that the management should respect workers’ rights. The Mobilization Officer of JAF, Peluola Adewale and other leaders including NUCFRLANMPE Deputy President addressed workers and the press.
The initiative of the trade unions to picket these two companies and raise public awareness was commendable. The struggle against casualisation must be sustained. Although, NUFLAMPE continued the struggle until the management was forced to pay all workers compensation of N10,000 per year of service, the union was unable to deepen the struggle in terms of solidarity. For instance, the union was unable to mobilize for warning solidarity strike action in other companies that belong to the same Group of Companies as Dura Pack. NUCFRLANMPE also failed to mobilize sustained support from other trade unions during the one month struggle. The union eventually sued the company for violating workers rights and the second hearing will be coming up on February 26, 2014.
While the union was able to collaborate with other unions to successfully picket Dura Pack on October 7, it did not explore relationship with the rank and file workers before the picketing took place. The union rather relied on trade union diplomacy, relating with management alone through letters, something that was resisted by management. CDWR began its intervention at Durapack in April 2013 with circulation of leaflets and meetings with workers. It was the agitations and mobilization of workers with the help of CDWR that made the picketing a success as workers overwhelmingly accepted the trade unions and unionization on October 7, 2013. Members of CWDR were firmly with workers in active solidarity throughout the one month the struggle lasted.