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Workers protest over poor pay, working condition at OK Foods

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The casual workers protesting outside the company premises yesterday.<br />PHOTO: ENIOLA DANIEL<br />

Hundreds of casual workers protested against what they described as their pathetic situation at OK Foods, a subsidiary of Olam International Limited, at Toyota bus-stop, on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, yesterday.
 
They alleged poor pay, poor working conditions and constant threats of being laid off.
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It took the intervention of policemen to restore order to the axis and calm frayed nerves of angry workers, who took to the road and barricaded the route as early as 8.00 a.m.
 
The workers, armed with stones, sticks and iron, chanted several protest songs and threatened to bring down the company to her kneels. They were locked out by the firm’s security guards before they forced the gate open and broke into the company.
 
According to some of the workers who did not want their names in print, “OK Foods is cheating us. We are putting in more work far above the pay. They are treating us like slaves. Despite working for more hours, they short-pay us. We are suffering and dying. People lose their pregnancies in the factory due to the nature of the job. We want them to increase the daily pay to N2,000 and reduce the working hours.”
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Speaking with The Guardian, one of the casual workers, Precious, said: “When we work for two weeks, we will still have to wait for another eight days to get paid. The heat here is too much. There is no fan and we are covered with rashes. It is not fair that we get paid late and we still have to use almost all the money to treat sicknesses.
 
“The mixing boys and others are being paid N1,400 for a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. job. It is slavery. We know how much factories around pay their workers. I have been working in OK Foods for over two years and we fought frantically before the pay was increased to N1,400 from N800. We want them to increase the money to N2000 and the working time to be adjusted.”
 
Responding to The Guardian enquiry, Vice President, Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria, Ade Adefeko, said: “We have no issues with our casual workers, as they are being remunerated accordingly and as agreed.
 
“What happened was clear brigandage to which we don’t subscribe. Anything you are informed about to the contrary is untrue and you should discountenance. Any grievance they have needs to be channelled accordingly. They do not have a license to resort to violence and brigandage.”

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