FENRAD hails Abia Governor’s swift probe of alleged workers’ enslavement by Chinese firm
Posted by News Express | 21 August 2020 | 487 times
The Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD) has praised the urgency with which the Abia State Government, under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, set up a fact-finding committee to inquire into and make independent findings in the alleged torturous exploitation of Nigerian workers by a Nigerian-based Chinese firm, Galaxy Steel Company situated at Obehie in Ukwa West Local Government Area of the state.
The group noted that this is a right step and also thanked the State Government for co-opting into the fact-finding committee a civil society group member, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, of FENRAD.
A statement signed by Barr. Olusegun Bamgbose, Head Legal Team, noted that FENRAD is aware of the news in the media of the alleged maltreatment of Nigerian workers by Inner Galaxy Steel Company.
It stated: “While FENRAD understands the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) like: widening tax base, creation of job opportunities, growth of micro businesses and so on that Inner Galaxy is capable of achieving, it does not see the need for inhuman, harsh and exploitative abuse of workforce.
“FENRAD on this note urges the state government to do all within its powers to ensure that when submitted, the report is followed through in implementation and that justice must be done without any need of burying it in legalistic framework.”
The statement said that FENRAD wishes to see justice in the following ways:
That the committee establishes whether Inner Galaxy Steel Company, in conduct of its operations, follows Nigerian Labour Laws, the International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines and global best practices with respect to human dignity and dignity of labour.
Establishing whether the working condition of workers, both method of hiring and firing, leave of work or off-duty days, health insurance cover, remuneration, safety measures and guidelines and all other necessary benefits apply to on-field workers. Whether there is discrimination in payment, promotion and general welfare of workers.
Finding out whether the alleged crimes of sexual molestation and physical abuse alleged to be perpetrated by the company are true.
That the circumstances surrounding the condition Mr. Elahor, an amputee, who allegedly lost one leg in duty line, are clearly established. It was alleged that the company failed to take full responsibility of paying his medical bills since 2018. The committee must make attempt to reach Mr Elahor and also the company authorities.
The question of whether Inner Galaxy Steel Company as corporate citizen is socially responsible and tax compliant. Does the firm remit its taxes and royalties according to law and in the commensurate lawful proportion?
The committee should also establish whether the company in truth uses the Nigerian army or police to intimidate its workers. Based on a Punch online report, the company uses men of Nigerian police Abia State command to harass protesting workers and CSP Isiguzo, the DPO of Obehie police station has always authorised arrest and illegal detention of workers. This should be investigated.
It should also be established whether Inner Galaxy follows enviromental laws and also whether it did environmental impact assessment before establishing the company. Human rights enforcement level should also be ascertained.
“The committee must go about its work without fear or favour,” FENRAD said, adding: “Truth must be told regardless of whatever position and interest may be at stake.”