Ranbaxy Nigeria Limited - Rosemary Olagoke victimised for a just cause

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By Oke Ogunde in Lagos    
Thursday, 15 March 2007

Rosemary Olagoke was the Unit Secretary of the in-house workers' union - National Union of Chemical, Foot, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Product Employees (NUFLANMPE) at Ranbaxy Nigeria Limited, whose job as a production assistant was terminated on June 16th, 2006 for no just cause. The management gave no reason for its action.

Notwithstanding this silence from the management of Ranbaxy as to the reason behind the termination of her appointment, it is a well known fact Rosemary is being victimised for her uncompromising attitude in the cause of using her position as union secretary to defend the basic rights of her fellow workers. Right from four years ago, specifically September 2002, when she was elected along with other members of the unit executive, she has served as a rallying point and a very vocal/focused mouthpiece for the workers at Ranbaxy.

Typically, the Ranbaxy Management known for their various anti-worker policies and for intolerance to workers' activism, had found it difficult to accommodate such uncompromising attitude embodied in Rosemary. Related to this, is the fact that before they finally terminated her appointment, there had been numerous threats from the management, multiple queries issued to her and was once placed on suspension from work, all as a result of her union activities. However, in spite of this development, she had remained undaunted.

The fact that the management of Ranbaxy, manufacturers of Gestid antacid, Ranferon blood capsules, Rancotrim tablets and other ranges of pharmaceutical products, remained indisposed to improving the lot of its workforce explains the reason for this singular attack.

Among the numerous anti-worker policies of the Ranbaxy group has been its unrepentant casualisation of labour policy, where workers are brought in as casual workers for so many years without the regularization of their employment. A typical example of this cruel policy is Rosemary Olagoke herself, who had to spend four years as a "casual" from 1993-97, before she was eventually staffed on July 1st, 1997. Ranbaxy flourishes on so many similar and worse cases.

Another clear logic that might explain the unwarranted and unprovoked attack on the person of Rosemary is the fact that the next in-house union election were due by September 2006, i.e. less than two months to the time of termination of the appointment of Rosemary. The inherent fear of the management is that given her popularity as a workers' rights defender she is most likely to be elected as the next Chairperson of the in-house union in Ranbaxy (Nig) Limited.

This callous response of the management aimed at removing an effective and uncompromising leadership for the workers' union must not be allowed to work; it must be frustrated. The national leadership of NUCFLANMPE as well as the Area Council and the local leadership at Ranbaxy must immediately give the necessary teeth to the demand for the immediate reinstatement of Rosemary Olagoke. It is never too late to right an existing injustice.

All the forces of the workers' movement and that of the NUCFLANMPE must be mobilized to reverse this injustice; further delay is dangerous!