Revelations that some 300 staff had been imprisoned in a rice-processing manufacturing unit in Kano State since March and compelled to work in insupportable situations display the pressing want for Nigeria to make sure that it correctly enforces its labour legal guidelines.
When the state authorities imposed a lockdown in response to the unfold of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff on the Indian-run firm within the Challawa Industrial Property in Kano have been initially saved within the manufacturing unit for 5 days and promised an extra N5,000 a month. Those that refused have been threatened with the sack. 5 days turned a fortnight and ultimately changed into three months of involuntary detention.
The employees have been evaded pals and relations who got here to the manufacturing unit gates to ask of them. No provision was made for ample feeding and lodging; those that fell sick didn’t have entry to correct remedy. All of the whereas, they have been saved working full-time. Their predicament got here to mild when a criticism was made to a human-rights organisation which reported the matter to the police.
As surprising as it’s, this follow is kind of commonplace within the nation. In September 2002, about 45 staff have been killed in a hearth in a plastics manufacturing unit in Ogun State. A lot of the victims have been unable to flee as a result of that they had been locked in by one of many managers who had gone off with the important thing. Final April, staff in a ceramics agency within the Ogun Guangdong Free Commerce Zone, Igbesa, protested at being held within the manufacturing unit for 2 weeks with out pay.
It’s tragic that it is a common prevalence in a rustic with laid-down labour legal guidelines and intensive occupational well being and security rules. Part 49 of the Manufacturing facility Act of 2004 empowers the Minister of Labour and Employment to make rules to make sure the security, well being and welfare of Nigerian staff in all workplaces. The nation’s Nationwide Coverage on Security and Well being comprehensively outlines the duties and capabilities of the related regulatory our bodies involved with employee security.
The shortcoming of the nation’s authorities to implement the occupational well being and security legal guidelines is because of regulatory laxity, particularly poor monitoring, insufficient reporting procedures, and corruption. It mustn’t have been doable for a rice-processing manufacturing unit with as much as 600 staff to function for 3 months throughout a lockdown with out being checked as soon as.
The employees had apparently been employed with out viable employment contracts, or they’d have been conscious of their rights below the nation’s employment legal guidelines. The corporate’s international managers clearly believed that they may get away with what they did as a result of they felt that they’d not be held to account for his or her actions.
Nigeria should step up its monitoring of workplaces, particularly manufacturing considerations the place the potential for abuse is comparatively excessive. All enterprise institutions have to be made to adapt to all occupational well being and security tips earlier than they’re authorised, and ought to be commonly monitored to make sure that they preserve set requirements.
A complete programme of employee schooling have to be arrange to make sure that staff are conscious of their rights and obligations below the nation’s labour legal guidelines. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) ought to take up this matter with all seriousness.
The place breaches of well being and security rules are found, as on this case, they have to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the legislation. Employers and managements whose greed and carelessness lead to employee deaths or accidents ought to face felony prosecution. Workers of regulatory our bodies who’re discovered to be culpable ought to be disciplined in step with statutory provisions of their organisations. The Nigeria Police and different safety companies ought to be certain that factories and manufacturing institutions are included of their patrols.
Nigerian staff shouldn’t be pressured to decide on between life and livelihood of their locations of labor.