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Chinese workers protest in Lagos

01 February 2013, 12:21

Lagos - Nigerian Workers of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) on Friday protested alleged abuse and anti-labour treatment by the company’s management.

The aggrieved workers carried placards and chanted protest songs in front of the company’s office at the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos, as early 9:00 a.m.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the placards had inscriptions such as: ``We are the least paid construction workers in Nigeria’’, Gov. Babatunde Fashola must hear this’’ and ``Increase our salaries’’.

The company’s Head Foreman, Mr Sunday Johnson, told NAN that the protesters were aggrieved that that their welfare package was inadequate.

``The management does not have any medical facility for the workers. Our salaries are poor and there is no increment.

``The suffering is too much. I cannot pay the school fees of my children,’’ Johnson said.

Mr Jack Aguto, who has worked with the company for six years, said that he was hired as an electrical engineer but had been working in other areas with no additional wage.

``It is sad that the money CCECC pays as salary is meagre. We need a basic salary. We work for seven days in a week and earn peanuts,’’ Aguto told NAN.

A carpenter, Mr Henry Okoye, told NAN that he was currently earning about N17, 000 monthly as a junior worker, after working for three years as a casual.

``We work every day -- both on public holidays and weekends -- with no allowances. I was hired as a carpenter, but I am forced to work as a gardener and bricklayer on the same pay,’’ Okoye said.

Mr Bak Ayar, an engineer, said that the CCECC management deducted N600 from each worker’s monthly wage as union dues, whereas the workers never met with any union leaders or discussed issues with them.

He said the workers had been appealing to the management unsuccessfully to reduce the number of work hours.

According to him, the workers resume at 6:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. daily.

Mr Ajibola Habibi, who had worked for the company for four years as a mason, alleged that the Chinese in the company regularly assaulted Nigerians.

He said that the Nigerian workers had been tolerating all the alleged anti labour practices because of the fear of being sacked.

When contacted, Mr Wang Chunjing, Deputy Manager, Materials and Equipment Department, CCECC, told NAN that the company was planning to increase the workers’ salaries.

Chunjing did not react to the other allegations made by the workers, but said that he was attending a meeting and would give explanations later.

Reacting to the development, Mr Adeniyi Shabi, Lagos State Chairman, National Union of Civil Engineering and Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers, told NAN that the workers belonged to the union.

Shabi said that the leader of the workers’ union in the CCECC was not active because of an internal squabble among the workers.

Also reacting, Mr Segun Olutade, Executive Director, Shelter Watch Initiative-- an NGO-- called on Nigeria’s leaders to review the law on expatriate quota.

``The excuse that our artisans are not good enough is wrong. Let us train our artisans to do any kind of job that we want,’’ he urged.

He decried a situation where 3,000 Chinese were brought into Nigeria to do jobs that Nigerians could do well.

Olutade described the situation as a ``second generation slavery’’.


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