By Victor Ahiuma-Young
WORKERS in the nationâ€™s Chemical and Leather industry, under the aegis of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLNMPE), has petitioned the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, to look into alleged unfair labour practices by Lee Group of Companies.
In the petition signed by the unionâ€™s General Secretary, Comrade Matthew Momoh, the union reminded the Minister of an earlier letter of complaint to him against Lee Group of Companies on de-unionisation of members for which the MinisterÂ summoned both parties to a meeting in his office on 23rd June, 2009.
The union lamented that since the meeting, the management of the group had become more hostile to labour issues and said â€œBut the issue involving denial of freedom of association and dehumanisation of innocent workers by way of slave labour touches on the integrity of our nation. Shall we allow a foreigner to make a caricature of our laws in the name of his high connection to the power that be?
â€œWe believe that there is law in this land (Nigeria) and Mr. Lee should not be speared as it would amount to a slap on the collective psyche of our dear country.â€
â€œAfter the failed 23rd June 2009 meetingÂ we were told to wait for the nextÂ line of action by your Ministry which forms the reason why we are writing you this reminder letter after endless waiting.
In furtherance to the complaint letter we submitted to your office on 25th March 2009,when we held a meeting with you at SGF Conference room, Federal Secretariat Abuja, we wish to give you further information on the antics of Lee Group of Companies.â€
The union recalled that in its April 27, 2009, letter to the Minister, it also detailed the unionâ€™s complaints against the group.
â€œThe continuous recalcitrant attitude of Lee Group of Companies to unionisation, however convinced us that deliberate and calculated efforts had been made by the management to stifle trade union activities in all Lee Group of Companies, and we consider the illegal de-unionization and embargo on the formation of branch unions by Lee Organization as a naked expression of an act of illegality. May we emphasize that the activities of Lee Group of Companies is a complete violation of Article 87 of 1LO to which Mr. Leeâ€™s country of origin is a signatory and it also contravenes fundamental rights of Nigerianworkers to freedom of association.â€