ILAW flays maltreatment of workers by Kano rice farm
The Nigeria chapter of International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) has joined pro-labour organisations and others in condemning Popular Farm, the rice mill that allegedly held 126 workers against their will in deplorable conditions for three months in Kano State.
In a statement signed by Benson Upah for ILAW Nigeria yesterday, the body expressed dismay that not few of the workers that were held hostage suffered from varying degrees of injury.
The statement read in part: “Holding workers against their will, false imprisonment, forced labour, threats and intimidation at work place, harassment and starvation rations constitute not only unwholesome labour practices; they infringe on the rights of the individual as guaranteed not only by international standards established by the ILO but also the 1999 Constitution and actionable in criminal and tort laws.
“That these workers were held in an over-crowded facility/factory during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) era, contrary to Section 8 of the Factories Act, 1987, makes this act more reprehensible.”
ILAW added that the conduct of the company was not only barbaric and nihilistic, “it also goes against the grain of Decent Work Agenda to which we all subscribe.”
The body, therefore, called on the police, Immigration, Ministry of Labour and other appropriate authorities not to relent in their efforts in ensuring that the full weight of the law was visited upon the culprits.
This, it said, is made necessary and urgent by the fact that Popular Farm is allegedly not a first-time offender. “At the time of this infraction, [it is] alleged to be on suspension from the membership of the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) over “some issues.”
ILAW said it would continue to work with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), the unions and state councils of the labour centres in ensuring that employers did not observe extant labour laws in the breach.
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