The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) hereby condemns the management of Dangote Savannah Sugar Company Plc in Numan, Adamawa State for subjecting workers of the company on conditions akin to slave labour.
Workers of the company protested recently in anger at the condition of slave labour they have been put. According to the workers, 80% of the staff of the company are casual workers. Many of these casual workers have worked for upward of seven to eight years yet they remain casual workers in absolute disregard for Nigeria’s labour laws. They work from 7am to 6pm under terrible working conditions and are paid a peanut of N500 per day.
The actions of the company in placing workers on casual labour for seven and eight years, making workers work from 7am to 6pm and paying a wage of N500 per day are criminal, illegal and violate laws of Nigeria regulating the employment of labour and international conventions on labour matters like the International Labour Organisation (ILO) etc.
In our view, the condition under which the workers are placed is over exploitation of labour in order to squeeze out superb profit for capital. It is not therefore surprising that the owner of the company, Aliko Dangote was recently named as the richest man in Africa with net worth of around $13.8bn. It would not be out of place to conclude that the source of his wealth is the super exploitation of the blood and sweat of poor workers not just in the Sugar Company but in all other companies under the Dangote Group.
The slave labour in Dangote Savannah Sugar Company Plc is not an isolated case; it is a pattern that can be seen in all the factories and companies in Nigeria. The failure of the Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Labour and other authorities to discover this shows the inefficiency as well as the fraudulent conspiracy which officials of the Ministry and government have always had with private business to overlook clear cases of anti-labour sharp practices in exchange for money. Besides, Dangote is about the private chief financier of the successive presidential candidates of the ruling PDP since the advent of civil rule. This explains why he enjoys an almost total monopoly in commodities trade and manufacturing in the country.
We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress and relevant industrial unions to intervene in the plight of workers at not only Dangote Savannah Sugar but also all the sweatshops nationwide including those under Dangote Group where casualisation, slave wage and inhuman working conditions are the norms. The employers must be compelled to obey the Nigeria’s labour laws, respect dignity of labour and principle of decent work and pay minimum wage to workers.
However the situation in Dangote Savannah Sugar Company Plc has again confirmed that the unjust system of capitalism far from guaranteeing prosperity for all always ensures that only a few clique get superbly rich on the back of the majority- the working class. Dangote’s multi-billion empire has been built on the creaking backs of laboring masses in Nigeria. It is only by reorganizing society along a more just and egalitarian lines wherein the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and placed under the control and management of the working masses that majority of Nigerians can actually enjoy a prosperous and comfortable life.
We hereby demand:
(1) The immediate regularization of the appointment of the workers most of whom have been casual workers for as much as seven to eight years in flagrant disregard for Nigeria’s labour law and the International Labour Organizations (ILO) conventions on the rights of workers.
(2) Placement of the workers on the new N18, 000 National Minimum Wage without retrenchment.
(3) Inclusion of elected representatives of trade unions in the Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Labour to ensure strict monitoring of companies and factories in Nigeria as well as discipline of companies acting in disregard of labour laws and conventions.
(4) Improvement in working conditions and compliance with the eight-hour working day.
(5) Respect of workers’ rights to form and join a trade union.
(6) Control and management of the company by elected democratic committee of workers as a step towards nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ democratic control and management.