Some reasons for the low production of flour and the dramatic change in the size of bread have been attributed to the protest of workers at Seaboard West Africa [or Flour Mill] at Cline Town, east of the capital.
The workers protested for a complete overhaul of their welfare, protection and a revisit of the harsh treatment meted out on them by the company’s new management.
In an interview with Awoko over the weekend, one of the workers Samuel Cole who is a plumber and has been with the company since 1984 said they protested because of dramatic changes at the company.
He explained that, “we were working as casual workers when Bazzy came with a Nigerian telling us that conditions at the company have changed as Nigerians have bought shares in the company. We were given tags and told that after three months some of us would be employed but it did not happen only to be called later to sign for another three months after which action would be taken.”
Mr Cole said this happened around last December and that after working for six months they were ordered out of the factory as the management was not going to allow casual workers.
“Imagine the length of time some of us have worked here, that was not considered, we were not paid only to be called to serve as contractors receiving Le150, 000 a month,” he disclosed.
That condition did not go down well with the workers as they went on protest since November 29. “Apart from making us casual workers, when we first started as casuals we were given soaps, milk for the dust and lunch but this new management has terminated all that,” he complained.
Abu Bakar Bindi, another aggrieved worker working at the workshop department, explained: “I have spent 14 years working here manually, risking my life as casual worker. What we know of a casual is that after serving as a casual worker for 3-6 months you are made as permanent worker but look I am now a contractor.”
He said they as workers had lost all their privileges in the company. “I want to work I leave my house at 7am to fend for my family but sadly at the end of the day what I take home will not educate my children nor feed them. Why suffer and be treated like this in my own country?” He asked
Similar sentiments and more frustrations were expressed by other workers who were gathered last Friday to be addressed by the employment and social security minister Minkailu Bah. But it seemed the minister did not make it up and one Mr Williams from the labour ministry and other officials attempted to speak to the workers outside but they refused, demanding that they be spoken to in the factory as they still considered themselves workers.