By Oluwakemi Ishola
The Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has expressed concern over the rising cases of COVID-19 among workers of the Ibadan-based multinational company known as iSON Xperiences and holds that it is the characteristic protection of profit of private companies at the expense of workers by the Makinde-led government and other pro-capitalist governments in the past that is responsible.
According to a press statement signed by its State Secretary, Com. Ayodeji Adigun, SPN said that since the report of the first Covid-19 casemamong workers in the company just less than two weeks ago, the total number of recorded cases in Oyo State today Monday 25th May, 2020 has risen to 240 with 150 cases from ISON alone.
Part of the statement reads: “This development is quite unfortunate and worrisome but not surprising, considering the terrible and slavery working condition under which workers in virtually all workplaces in Oyo State particularly private companies operate.
“In iSON for instance, the information at our disposal is that over 500 of its workforce were recruited under an employment condition that is described as outsourcing or contract employment. Outsourcing is just a nomenclature adopted by billionaire owners of big business to beat labour laws. In practice it is not anyway different from casualisation which is the condition where workers lack regular status of employment and job security. Under this condition, workers are deprived of their right to pension and trade union through which they can fight for better pay and decent conditions.”
SPN further observed that the conditions of service of the outsourced/contract workers in iSON were very poor. “Asides the fact that they earn less than N1300 daily, they work in a very clustering environment on a daily basis between 9 and 12 hours. Also is the fact that workers are often compelled to work without adequate working and safety gadgets all in attempt by the business owner to maximize profit. Workers’ salaries are often deducted for the flimsy excuse of network downtime with no assurance of salary payment as and when due” the party stressed.
“Unfortunately, in one whole year of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, no practical step has been taken to address this indecent working conditions at various companies and industries in Oyo State. Instead as a procapitalist government like its predecessors and nationally, all its policy actions has clearly shown that its main interest is to ensure that the profit interest of the billionaire owners of big business are always protected even at the expense of lives and safety of workers in both public and private workplaces across the State”
“Now in Oyo State, restrictions are placed on the activities of the poor small business owners and artisans across the State for the purpose of discouraging social interaction to minimize person to person Covid-19 transmission while billionaire owners of big companies like iSON Xperiences and many other private companies and industries in the State like SUMMAL FOOD LIMITED, WAO SOAP, ZARTECH LIMITED are allowed to continue operations even under a clustering working environment.”
“For instance, despite the executive Order by the Governor that no gathering must exceed 10 persons anywhere in the State whether within or outside the workplace, the management of the iSON Xperiences still compelled workers to run up to three different shifts with nothing less than 200 persons in operation for each shift under the same working conditions while Seyi Makinde-led government and Covid-19 task force looks the other way”.
“It is in the light of this double standard approach of Makinde’s administration in Oyo State especially when it comes to the issues that borders on the protection of profit interest of the few billionaire business owners and its nonchalant attitude to the indecent labour practices in the various private companies in Oyo State, that we of the SPN are compelled to blame it for the unfortunate development in iSON Xperiences”.
SPN noted the decision by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government to make the management of the iSON company responsible for the cost of treatment of all of it workers infected with COVID-19. This will no doubt serve as a deterrent to other companies. However, beyond this kind of measures from Engr Seyi Makinde-led government is to begin to ensure that the welfare and working condition of workers in private companies across the State is adequately monitored and improved upon.
“The development in iSON should be a wake up call on the State’s leadership of NLC, TUC and ULC not only to break away from their collaborationist attitude towards the State government and come up with a list of demands that will guarantee adequate protection of the interest of the poor workers in this period of the COVID-19 pandemic but also to come out with a programme of action on campaign against casualisation and other indecent labour practices in private companies across the State” the statement concluded.
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