By Victor Ahiuma-Young
AGGRIEVED workers of BUA Cement Factory, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, who are protesting the death of one of their colleagues in questionable circumstances while working in the factory,Â have shut down the operations of the company.
The deceased, Mr. Paul Omerezune, was said to have died on Monday evening over alleged lack of medical attention few minutes after he had complained of tiredness while working in the factory.
Under the umbrella of the Dockworkers branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the workers have accused the management of negligence and not having the minimum safety standard and other basic necessities and were said to have vowed never to return to work until the management provides basic necessities and safety standards for them.
Zonal Vice President, MWUN, Comrade Waite Harry, who confirmed the development to Vanguard. said: â€œ Mr. Pau; died between 7 and 7.30 pm on Monday. while working in the factory.”
After some time, he told his colleagues that he was feeling very tired and that he needed to rest.
He was said to have moved to a shade to rest. Few minutes later, he was seen gasping for air. His colleagues raised alarm. There was no ambulance to take him to hospital for medical attention. After some time, the Production Managerâ€™s car was used to carry him to a clinic in the town.
They rejected him at the clinic on the ground that he had already died. The workers then demanded that the body be returned to the factory. After appeal from the union, his body was then taken to Kpaina Mortuary in the morning.â€
â€œYou know we have been making noise concerning the poor safety and working environment in theÂ company for some times now. People thought we did not know what we were doing. We warned against the hazardous environment that the dockworkers are exposed to there, because they lack basic safety standard, nobody listened.
The workers have since the incident stopped working demanding assurance from the management that basic necessities and minimum standard be provided so that they would not suffer the same fate.
As we speak now (yesterday), the workers have refused to work. We are presently trying to calm them down and ensure that we meet with management to provide basic safety standard. But the workers have told us that they will go back to work until they get assurance from the management for basic things like milk, protective wears to be provided to them in addition to minimum safety standard.â€
A top official of BUA who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard on phone that the incident took place in Port Harcourt, wondering why Journalists in Lagos would be making enquires, instead of those in Port Harcourt.