By Juliet Umeh
WORKERS of Lambert Electromec Nigeria Limited, a Lebanese company with head office at Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, have every reason to be happy as their long battle to join the union; the Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, SEWUN, has come to fruition.
This follows the decision of the management to respect the award by the Industrial Arbitration Panel, IAP, given in 2020, after officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and SEWUN picketed and disrupted the operations of the company August 9, over perceived refusal to honour the IAP award.
However, the management was forced to enter into agreement with organized labour after aggrieved unionists and workers shut all the offices of the company in Lagos.
Speaking, during the picketing, General Secretary of SEWUN, Mr Paul Okonma, said: “We have met severally with the company in an attempt to ensure the implementation but the company bluntly refused. They continued twisting us and twisting the matter. Even with the compromises we made to ensure the implementation, it all ended in vain hence the recourse to self-help through the instrumentality of the NLC. The issue is recorgnition of the Union as a legitimate organisation to represent the interest of the workers as enshrined in the law.”
But after reaching a pact with the management, Assistant General Secretary of SEWUN, Mr Prince Igbokwe said: “As from today, there is a union in this company, and the workers in this place are now members of SEWUN.
“From today, they are going to be able to negotiate their condition and terms of employment. And as from today, they are no longer slaves but people working in a dignified environment.
“From today, the workers in this place are now members of the NLC. When workers stand together, the oppressors will be defeated.”
Speaking on behalf of the company, the Solicitor of Lambert Electromec Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jonathan Ikiebe, among others, said : “ We have decided to take the part of peace to ensure that it is a win- win for all parties. You can see that the issue has been resolved and they (officials of NLC and SEWUN) are leaving.”
On the picketing, he said: “This matter had been on for about two years. We have gone to IAP where it gave an award which we challenged in the National Industrial Court, NIC. Unfortunately, while that matter is pending in the industrial court, labour decided to picket this morning (August 9).
“Be that as it may, in order not to allow this matter to linger, we have entered into terms of settlement with them which we have signed now pending when we meet again next for us to have a more comprehensive agreement.”