Update on the Nigerchin workers’ strike
Monday, 10 July 2006
Since we issued the June 26, 2006 editorial statement, the strike of the workers continues and the management of Nigerchin is desperately ruthless. They are working day and night using the dirtiest tricks in the book towards undermining the workers and getting rid of all them.
On June 27, they issued a memo saying that they had closed down the factory; that workers should come and collect the pay-offs. In addition, they say that workers interested in working for Nigerchin should reapply!
This is in spite of the fact that they were to meet with the representative of the NLC that week. However, they arrogantly declined to meet with the NLC or the NUSDE representatives. They then fixed the meeting with the NLC for Wednesday July 5.
However, they stepped up their attack on the workers' struggle by bringing in casual workers to start up production. But, the 'casuals' do not know much about the machines. The strike is total, as only 8 senior staff were not part of the movement. All the workers were for the strike.
In the process of trying to get production off the ground, they ordered one of the supervisors to train the first set of casuals. He refused and he was sacked immediately.
By July 3, they went to bring in about 150 causal workers from the other branches of the Wahum group of companies. Nigerchin is part of the Wahum group. Their target is to get the factory working in order to sabotage the workers' struggle.
All this was done in spite of the fact that they had a meeting with the NLC reps on July 5. On Wednesday, July 5, in fact, the NLC reps had a meeting with the top management of the company on behalf of the workers. According to the NLC reps, the management claim that they have to discuss the issue of granting workers the right to join the trade union of their choice with their international headquarters in China! Therefore, the NLC should come back for a meeting on Tuesday, July 11 that would be 26 days after the strike started.
In essence, the question of granting the workers the right to join a trade union is subject to the decision of the management of Nigerchin abroad!
Meanwhile they have stepped up the process of bringing in more casuals and getting production off the ground. They want to get rid of all the workers, and go for a new set of workers. This is a very common practice by the employers in Nigeria.
The management knows that there is a very large army of unemployed in Nigeria and Lagos has the highest number. Many companies criminally purge their staff in order to re-negotiate lower wages with the workers. They have also set the police on the workers again. However, the workers have remained calm and not fallen into provocation.
The NLC and the NUSDE leadership must put more pressure on Nigerchin managment by expanding the frontiers of solidarity for the Nigerchin workers. This can be done by organizing mass picketing to effectively stop the use of causal workers to break the strike. The attempt to break the strike of Nigerchin workers must be resisted.
Secondly, the leadership of SEWUN must break with the management of Nigerchin. Their continued collaboration with them is very dangerous to the Nigerian working class movement.
July 9, 2006
We are providing again the protest letter for you to sign and send:
Model protest letter
To the management of Nigerchin, Nigeria
It has been brought to our attention that the workers at your company are being refused their basic right to join a trade union of their choice. We understand that they decided last year to join NUSDE, but you have been systematically trying to stop this. The Nigerian Trade Union Act recognises this right.
We call on you to stop this harassment of trade union activists and members in your company and recognise their basic rights. We are taking this issue up here in ouir country within the wider labour movement.