Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

WAW SOAP FACTORY: Student crushed to death!

Poor working conditions and lack of safety policy responsible for the death of UI Student crushed in the machine in the factory

SPN demands adequate compensation for the family and calls on Labour to fight casualisation and poor working conditions in the state!

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Oyo State Chapter, decries the sudden death of one Mr Gbadebo Richard, at HENKEL NIGERIA LIMITED. The company that is known for the production and supply of WAW detergent and bar soap is situated in the Oluyole area, Ibadan, Oyo State. We equally express our condolences to the family of the diseased and demand adequate compensation for them.

The late Richard was a 21 year old 300 level student of the department of European Studies, Faculty of Art, University of Ibadan. He was reportedly crushed to death by a mixing machine while on night shift in the early hours of Tuesday 28th of July, 2020 at the company where he was recruited as a contract casual worker. The fact that the late Richard was a casual worker in the company definitely suggests that the cause of his death is most likely to be the poor and slavery working conditions workers are subjected to.

Henkel Nigeria Limited, like Sumal Foods Limited, Zartech Limited, Gx Foods Limited, iSON among others in the state, is notorious for various forms of indecent labour practices and habitual violation of Labour Act. For instance, most of its workforce were recruited under an employment condition that is described as outsourcing or contract employment.

Outsourcing is just a euphemism adopted by big companies to circumvent labour laws. In practice, it is not anyway different from casualisation which is the condition where workers lack regular status of employment and job security. Under this condition, workers are deprived of their right to pension and trade union through which they can fight for better pay and decent conditions.

The working conditions of the outsourcing/contract workers in Henkel Nigeria Limited is as poor as earning between N800 and N925 daily. In a clear violation of Section 13(3) of the Labour Act; the contract workers are often forced to work on a daily basis between 9 and 12 hours and never entitled to break. The workers are often compelled to work without adequate working and safety gadgets while the workloads are regularly increased in what is termed as “Firing” and without additional pay.

Worthy to note that all of these poor working conditions including the anti-labour practice of casualisation are often imposed on the poor workers for the purpose of enslaving them in order to guarantee huge profit for the capitalist owners. It is this kind of unfortunate and unending chase for profit that simply explains why the management of the Henkel Nigeria Limited uses the poor late Richard, who has no expertise and certified training as a soap mixing machine operator, to carry out the jobs of qualified machine operator.

It is in the light of this we frown against the report that the poor Richard just slipped into the machine without stating the underlying terrible working conditions in the company which we blamed for the cause of the death. That kind of reportage is quite misleading as it can be misinterpreted to mean that the poor boy died out of negligence. As far as we are concern the poor boy could have accidentally slipped into the soap mixing machine as reported owing to fatigue that normally occurs due to long hours of work without break.

The SPN notes the decision of the Oyo State Government to reportedly seal up the company through the intervention of the Oyo State Ministry of Environment. However, we openly charge the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government that beyond this is the need to enact a law through the Oyo State House of Assembly that will prohibit casualization, contract staffing and other indecent work practices in the state.

Except this kind of measures is taken, the decision to seal up the company will end up being a ploy to sweep the matter under the carpet. It will also shows that the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, endless chase after private investors with a false claim to uplift the standard of living condition of mass of poor masses, is a ploy give private investors unlimited freehand to carryout indecent work practices.

Given the pro-capitalist orientation and character of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, we of the SPN recognise that it will be impossible for the regime to take far-reaching measure that will guarantee an adequate and sustained improvement in the welfare and living conditions of the poor workers.

This is why we of the SPN hold that beyond the demand of adequate compensation for the family of the late Richard Gbadebo is also the need for the State’s leaderships of NLC and TUC to come up with an holistic programme of actions to commence a campaign against casualisation and other indecent labour practices across the state.

The SPN believes that such a campaign must equally be linked to demand to drop all trumped up criminal and civil charges currently levelled against comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, known as Abbey Trotsky, the acting national chairperson of SPN and Oyo State coordinator of Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) for providing leadership for the CDWR campaign against casualisation and indecent labour practices in Sumal Foods Limited, Ibadan and other companies like GX Foods Limited in the state.

Comrade Ayodeji Adigun

SPN State Secretary


E-mail: [email protected]