NLC SHUTS DOWN FLOUR MILLS OVER MASS SACK
The Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) penultimate week shut down business activities and production at the various offices of the Flour Mills Nigeria Plc. in Lagos for two days to protest mass sack of some members of staff by the company in February this year and refusal of the management to allow the workers right to belong to union.
The several affiliate unions of the Congress had assembled at the headquarters of the firm on 2, Dockyard Road, Apapa, in large number, carrying banners and singing protest songs against what they alleged as an unjust treatment of staff of the flour mills.
A drama played out when the protesters got to the main gate of the office and the security men refused to open the gate for them. Apparently furious at the development, they forced their way in and gathered at the entrance to air their views, calling on the management of Nigeria Flour Mills to address them.
The NLC Deputy President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who led the labour team, said Labour would deploy all the weapons permitted by law to fight the company and ensure that the right thing was done.
'If they fail to address these issues, we are prepared to deploy all weapons empowered by constitution to fight them. We demand that the management of Flour Mills come down to address us in 45 minutes. Whatever negotiation we will be having will have to take place here and now. We are here today in a sizeable number, but by tomorrow and next we will come with our men from other companies in Lagos. We are prepared to shut this company down until the management listen to us.', he said
Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, National President of the National Union of Shops and Distributive Employees, (NUSDE) also gave reasons for the unions' action, saying: 'Already, they have violated the law of the land by failing to allow unionism in the company for so long and have sacked many of their staff. When we went to Abuja to resolve the issue, the Minister of Labour directed that the workers already locked out should be reinstated but the management of Flour Mills violated the directives. So based on that we the NLC and the industrial unions had to come in immediately.
'We expect that they will be courageous enough to come down and address us. The workers lay off since February now amounts to about 800'.
Ogbaloi who explained that the protest was suspended last to enable workers planned for the May Day, vowed that the protests would be resumed immediately after the Workers Day celebration if the management of the company fails to do the right thing within those period of the break.
'We intend to paralyse every activities of the company if the management fails to listen to us and recall those sacked employees who they sacked due to victimization', he stated.
Workforce observed that the protest grounded business activities in the office both on Wednesday and Thursday as the workers in the company were forced to join the protest.
However, there was an indication that management of the flour mills and the union might commence negotiation on how to settle the problem but the union has said it will not accept any settlement that will not be in the interest of the sacked workers and protection of the workers still in employment of the company.