By Eromosele Abiodun and Peter Uzoho
Workers at the BUA Sugar Refinery yesterday protested against what they described as injustices and unfair labour practices in the organisation, demanding the immediate payment of their hazard allowances which the management had refused to pay since 2008.
In a peaceful protest staged in Lagos, the workers who marched round the company’s premises, holding placards with varying inscriptions, expressed their displeasure with the company’s insensitivity to their plights.
According to them, there is “no proper salary structure; no payment of shift allowance; no hazard allowance; no condition of service; no standard training for staff; no promotion of staff since the beginning of the refinery till date; and no regular meeting between the staff and the management.”
Speaking on behalf the protesting staff, an engineer with the company, Momoh Kareem, said they had tabled their grievances to the company’s management many times but all to no avail, saying that the management was not representing them well.
“We’ve tabled our problems to them time without number but no good response from them. There is what is called ‘hazard allowance.’ We want our hazard allowance paid immediately before we can go back to work. We demanded that they should pay N30,000 instead of the normal N60,000 that workers all over are paid for it, but they said they will pay us N12,000 with effect from August, 2016. But we disagreed with them on that. So we are demanding that they must pay that N30,000 as hazard allowance which must be paid in arrears beginning from 2008 till date and failure to do this, none of us will resume work, ”Kareem said.
“People have been falling sick here; some of us have become impotent because of the heat and vibration of the machines; some are now deaf, and so many have died. One of us by name Seik died about three years back but nothing has been done about him and the family he left behind. They kept on posting the wife; come today come tomorrow; a widow for that matter. The one month annual leave that we have been observing has been reduced; they now count Saturdays and Sundays as part of the 31 days in our leave. That is why we decided to rise against injustice meted out to us. Those people at the head office enjoy full AC; they come to work anytime they like and close earlier than us and their salaries are ten times our own, ”he added.