Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Workplace and industrial accidents leading to permanent disability or death are now widespread. It is more prevalent in factories and workplaces wherein machines are used for production and services. Factory owners purchase outdated and dangerous machines because they are relatively cheaper while workers with little or no training are employed in poor working conditions and forced to man the machines without personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety measures being put in place.

By a CDWR reporter

Joseph Sam is one of such victims of the brutal exploitation and highhandedness of some employers. He was employed on May 31, 2021, by Caili Plastic Company, 3, Niwil Close, off Oba Akran Road, Ikeja, Lagos State. He was immediately placed on night duty just a few days after being employed, the management instructed him to man a machine he was never trained for and he had an industrial accident precisely on the sixth day of employment while his left hand was disfigured by the machine. This avoidable accident happened on June 5, 2021. Joseph Sam is never a trained machine operator and never had any technical training; he graduated from secondary school in 2012 and like many Nigerian youths, he had to go hustling to feed and survive..

As a matter of fact, Joseph Sam would have been killed like Mr Richard Gbadebo of WOW Company in Ibadan, if his colleagues had not intervened when the machine grabbed his left hand. There was no standby ambulance, no clinic or first aid facility to take care of the emergency situations. For instance, it took the effort of Mr Joseph’s colleagues to ferry him to a hospital after trekking for close to three kilometres before getting a vehicle to convene him to a hospital for First Aid treatment. He was treated at three (3) different hospitals including the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi during which his left hand was amputated on July 1, 2021. The management did not respond quickly and responsibly enough leading to the spread of infection, this would have been avoided if treatment was swift and perhaps would have avoided the amputation.

The management had grudgingly agreed to pay N300,000 compensation after pressure from the family and did not want to commit to the continued employment of Joseph, procurement of an artificial left hand and rehabilitation. The N300,000 was not only ridiculously low, but offering it also showed how grossly irresponsible was the management.

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) approached the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for their intervention considering the fact that the trade union (National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Employees) that is supposed to unionize the company has a pro-management leadership and incapable of engaging the management in an expected manner. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the centre and Lagos State Council intervened and after weeks of engagement with the management, the management paid N5million compensation to Joseph Sam and agreed to reinstate him and get a prosthesis for his amputated left arm.

We appreciate the intervention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) but there is a need for the NLC to have a systemic approach to compensation for workplace industrial accidents as well as casualization and union rights. Many workers never get compensated or are ridiculously compensated because of the weakness or compromise of trade union leaders and lack of regulation from the Ministry of Labour. Hence, there is an urgent need of resuscitating the anti-casualisation committee to fight for decent jobs and ensure that workers who are denied union rights are unionized across the country.