Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Management Forced To Recognize The Union

By Olasumbo Musari

The workers of American International Insurance Company (AIICO) held a 4-day strike that climaxed in the picketing of the company corporate office on Monday July 28. The workers embarked on the action that commenced on Wednesday, June 23 2008, to protest the undermining of trade unionism at the company by the management. Though, the company is fully unionised the workers, since after the recapitalisation exercise in 2007 that saw another insurance company joining AIICO, the management denied the new workers the rights to join the union. Besides, since October 2007 the management has also stopped deducting the dues of those who are members of the union, even when they declared interest to be with the union.

Subsequently, the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution (ASSIBIFI) declared a trade dispute as prescribed by the Trade Dispute Act. After weeks of being in court the union and the Company voluntarily signed a communiqué, which entails that the management will recognise the union. The company did not only ignore the agreement, it also went further to initiate steps to victimize union members. After all negotiation broke down the union gave the company 14-day ultimatum. After ultimatum lapsed the workers commenced strike action. On Monday July 28 2008 while the strike was on the union mobilised the workers and pro-labour organisations for picketing of the company.

It is instructive to state that the AIICO/AGICO management, like most managements in the financial sector, wants to continue the attacks on the living condition of workers. For example, the management has deliberately refused to negotiate the emoluments and better condition of service with the workers, which they hope to sustain as long as the union is made prostrate.

About 80 workers and 50 pro-labour activists including members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) and United Action for Democracy (UAD) participated in the picket. There were solidarity speeches from DSM, CDWR, and UAD encouraging the workers and the union leaders to be steadfast in the struggle to defend their union and for better condition of service. Some workers who spoke to SD correspondent described the management as insensitive to the workers’ plight, they have carried out some anti-worker practices and only need to behead the union so as to intensify the attacks.

With the aim to intimidate the workers and stop the picketing the management called in the Police who declined to use force after the leaders of the picketing line spoke with them on the peaceful nature of the action and rights to picket the company. The management yielded to pressure and called the union leaders for a meeting at about 2pm after 7 hours of picketing in order to resolve the dispute and the discussion lasted till 8pm. The management has agreed to allow the union to operate fully and to resume discussions on the emolument and other condition of service. Based on this workers suspended the strike and picketing.

The Campaign for Democratic Workers Right (CDWR) calls on the union (ASSBIFI/NUBIFI) to further deepen the struggle for better condition of service and pay package for all workers in AIICO/AGICO and all other banks and insurance companies where anti-workers policies still exist.