WORKERS OF GX FOODS LIMITED, IBADAN, IN STRUGGLE TO RESIST MANAGEMENT ANTI-LABOUR PRACTICES!
A Call for National and International Solidarity
Members of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights, CDWR, Oyo State chapter are currently in a solidarity action with workers of GX FOODS LIMITED in Ibadan the Oyo state who are in struggle to resist different forms of indecent conditions and anti-labour practices in the company.
GX FOOD LIMITED is a food and beverage company whose chairman is alleged to be Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the immediate past Governor of Oyo State. It is situated at Plot 2 & 5, Lagelu Estate Scheme, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
The first among the GX FOOD LIMITED indecent labour practices is that its workers are employed with terms of employment that are at variance with necessary provisions of the Nigeria Labour Act.
For instance, the terms of employment through which the company recruits its workers often lack provision for certain allowances like transport, housing, medical (even provision of National Health Insurance Scheme through HMO as mandated by government) as well as other benefits like break periods and sick leave in the terms of employment.
This is inconsistent with Section 7 of Labour Act. It is also in violation of Section 13 of Labour Act which, among other things, mandates break periods and rest days.
GX FOOD LIMITED is also notorious for terminating the employment of workers arbitrarily on frivolous reasons without notice or payment in lieu. A classical instance of this kind of practice is the sacking of a female worker without any query or provision of an avenue for fair hearing following a false allegation that she abused her boss.
The act of forcing workers to resign by the company’s General Manager, GM, Mr Babatunde Arowosegbe and sacking them immediately after the submission of such resignation letters is also one of the sharp malpractices and unhealthy labour practices in the company.
Arbitrary salary deductions are another indecent labour practice often perpetrated by GX FOODS LIMITED management against its workers. For instance, since June 2019 over 50% of salaries earned by each of the workers have always been deducted by the company management on monthly basis without any notification that signifies official reduction in their monthly pay as stipulated in their respective offer of appointment.
These are just a few among many other forms of anti-labour practices the workers in the company had been suffering until 31st March, 2020 when they were verbally asked by management to proceed on compulsory leave without any documentation or commitment for the payment of their monthly salaries.
This development which was interpreted by the workers as an attempt by the company management to terminate their appointment through the back door without any plan for compensation or gratuity prompted the workers to solicit for the intervention of the CDWR Oyo state chapter over all of the labour related issues that affect the right and working conditions of workers in the company.
The CDWR accepted this responsibility and wrote a letter to the management of the GX FOOD LIMITED where some of the labour related issues in contention were highlighted and a request for a meeting to discuss demands of the affected workers was made.
The demands in the letter are:
(1) Management to pay compensations to all workers in lieu of years of denial of their democratic rights and entitlements like housing, transportation, medical allowances among other as stated in the labour act by the management of the GX FOOD LIMITED.
(2) Management should pay each worker all the accumulated deductions made from their respective monthly salaries by the management of GX FOOD LIMITED with 22% annual interest.
(3) Management should pay monthly salary to all workers for the entire period they are placed on compulsory leave.
(4) Management should pay one month salary in lieu of notice to all workers sacked without notice.
(5) Management should allow workers to observe one hour break period for every day’s job in line with Labour Act without delay.
It was in response to this request that a meeting between members of the CDWR and GX FOOD LIMITED, management was convened on the 30th April, 2020. Despite the fact that the meeting in question was unable to secure agreement on all of the major issues in contention, yet it was good that it held.
Except the allegation of arbitrary termination of workers’ appointment that was denied by the representative GX FOOD LIMITED all other allegations of indecent labour practices including the one that the GM, Mr Babatunde Arowosegbe, forces workers to resign were confirmed to be true.
At the point of rounding off the meeting, the management of GX FOOD LIMITED resorted to a kind of subtle threat that they would have no choice other than to terminate the appointment of all the workers and close down the company if the workers continued to insist of the above highlighted demands.
This is obviously as a result of the fact that all the arguments that the company had no capacity to meet the financial implications of the demands advanced by the management of the GX FOOD LIMITED were defeated.
Following this meeting, the action and attitude of the management of the GX FOOD LIMITED has been either to create a kind of division among the workers or to intimidate the leading figures among the workers.
Some of the leading figures were once asked to return to their duty post through a text message by the management only to be arrested upon their arrival at the company by the police on a false allegation that they were involved in damaging some cables in the company two nights before.
The motive behind the arrests was obviously to implicate the workers and thereby force them to concede to a ridiculous agreement. However, this plan was defeated as their bail was secured through a quick intervention of the CDWR’s lawyer.
Prior to the arrest there was also an attempt to deceive the workers to sign a document whose title suggests that they consented to the management decision that they should proceed on compulsory leave without pay.
After all the efforts to force the workers into submission failed, a general meeting with entire workers was convened by the GM, Mr Babatunde Arowosegbe, on Wednesday, 20th May, 2020. However, the meeting ended without any agreement as workers remained resolute on their demands. The CDWR has also written a follow up letter to the management of the GX FOOD LIMITED asking them to expedite action over the demands of the workers.
It in the light of this, we of the CDWR hereby openly solicit for both national and international solidarity actions of workers, youths and their organisations including sending protest messages to the management of GX FOOD LIMITED calling on them to accede to the demands of the poor aggrieved workers.
Protest messages should be sent to:
*07087214056- The Chairman
*08035700733- The Vice Chairman
*07064772580- General Manager (GM)
*08033901111- Human Resource Manager (HRM)
E-mail: [email protected]