09 July 2014, Lagos – The organised labour in the construction industry ysterday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government to address the dehumanising treatment of Nigerian workers by Chinese-owned construction companies.
It warned that at the expiration of the ultimatum, if nothing was done to check the inhuman practices by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), CGC Limited, TEC Engineering Company, and China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), it would not hesitate to shut down the entire industry.
President of the National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, who gave the notice of an industrial action at a press briefing in Lagos, listed some of the unfair labour practices by the Chinese companies to include, casualisation, victimisation of workers, expatriate quota abuse, non-adherence to safety standards and refusal of workers to organise.
He decried the manner with which the Chinese companies casualise workforce, noting that over 90 per cent of workers in the sector were casuals who are denied the rights to collective bargaining, medical care and right to unionise.
He lamented that the activities of Chinese construction companies had become unbearable in view of the dehumanising treatment being dished out to Nigerian workers, noting that management had taken advantage of the unemployment situation in the country to degrade jobs.
According to him, the activities of Chinese companies had increased the rate of casualisation of workforce in the country and jeopardised the livelihoods and well-being of workers and their families.
Speaking further, he said the rate at which workers in the sector lose their jobs was alarming, citing a situation where a worker was sack on account of an offence which ordinarily does warrant termination of employment.
The union leader blamed government particularly the labour ministry for allowing the Chinese companies to operate without recourse to the law of the land, warning that the union would not fold its hand and watch yet another era of labour slavery and exploitation by Chinese.
Speaking further, he said the factory inspectors under the labour ministry had failed in their responsibilities to monitor project sites and ensure that contractors comply with the health and safety standards.
He called on government to enforce strict compliance with terms of contract for capital projects, stressing that this would enhance proper articulation of all factors of production including labour.
He maintained that contracts should be awarded to only genuine contractors that are prepared to comply with the country’s laws, particularly local content policy.
“The attitude of Chinese companies towards Nigerians is something that urgently needs to be addressed. Government has failed in the area of monitoring project sites and curtailing the activities of the Chinese companies. The above action of the management of Chinese companies is not just a violation of the fundamental rights of the workers but a clear violation of the Nigerian labour laws, constitution and international conventions and standards.
– This Day