Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Chinedu Bosah

It is now over two years since Dangote Truck Officers and the ENL Dockworkers have been in court to press for their earned allowances and entitlements. The judiciary, they say is the last hope of the common man but from experience, it is a nightmare for the common people to get justice through the bourgeois court. The National Industrial Court (NIC) is the Court of First Instance on labour matters and the average time spent is 3 years which perfectly fits in to the saying; “Justice delayed is justice denied”.

The cumbersome and expensive nature of the Nigerian judiciary makes it very difficult for an average worker to approach the court for justice particularly when many workers are crushed by poverty while the bosses can afford to get expensive lawyers to fight and undermine workers. Even for workers who are privileged to sue managements, it is either some of them die in the process of litigation due to poverty or that the judgment is largely eroded by the economic reality of the present.

513 Dangote Truck officers have sued Dangote Cement Plc for breach of contract that bothers on refusal to pay some entitlements as well as pay hand the trucks to the officers. Dangote Cement is owned by Aliko Dangote – Africa’s richest man. The contract states that the truck officers will earn N60,000 as salary, medical allowance, N90,000 performance bonus and will own the truck after reaching 400,000km. The whole contract was violated except the N60,000 salary as at the time the management unlawfully sacked all the workers on February 4, 2017 having worked for just nine months. After multiple adjournments, the matter that was supposed to come up for trial on March 26, 2019 was again adjourned to November 13, 2019 because the Judge (Justice Mohammed Tanko) is one of the Election Tribunal Judges. It became a classic case of placing priority on the politicians over and above workers as many matters in court will suffer the same fate.

Similarly the ENL Dockworkers is suing ENL Consortium for refusal to pay time-wage salary of N33,000 since the collective bargaining agreement was reached in 2008. After the agreement was reached, the leadership of Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) connived with the ENL management to deny the 600 Dockworkers the time-wage. MWUN treacherously backed the management in the matter brought against some of the workers in 2016. The matter came up the last time on April 3, 2019 and has been adjourned to June 20, 2019 for trial.

Both matters have the backing of a human right lawyer, Barrister Toluwani Adebiyi and the Campaign for the Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR). Both sets of workers have resolved to continue the struggle until victory is achieved.