Workers at a Lagos-based footwear company, Cheng-Fa Nigeria Limited, on Friday, protested the death of their colleague, Joseph Ekwenobe, who was allegedly electrocuted while pouring materials into a faulty machine belonging to the firm. The workers said they had complained about the faulty machine to the management in the past but nothing was done about it, adding that the death of 14-year-old Joseph was unnecessary. They accused the management of being indifferent to the plight of the workers, saying that the machine developed a fault three days earlier and had electrocuted some workers before killing Joseph.
The workers, who lamented the poor working condition in the firm, also complained about their take home pay, which they noted was nothing compared to the number of hours they put. One of the workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that the management did nothing to revive Joseph when the incident happened.
He said, “I was inside the factory when I heard that someone was electrocuted and I saw everybody running helter-skelter. I went there and saw that it was one of my colleagues, who was electrocuted, nobody was able to touch him until the generator had been switched off. “Our Chinese bosses did not attend to him despite knowing what happened; they all went inside and we were the ones who tried to resuscitate him for more than 30 minutes till the driver came and took him away, only for us to hear later that he had died.”
Another worker, who identified himself simply as Olaniyi, said, “We have been complaining that the machine was electrocuting workers and the general supervisor told the engineer, who came to test it, but it was still the same till today (Friday) that the boy (Joseph) went to use it and we heard a noise and everybody rushed there and saw that he was already dead. “They (owners of the firm) don’t care about our welfare in this company. We work for 18 hours without rest and they pay us meagre amounts and if you complain, you will be laid off. There is no first aid box; if you complain about sickness, you will only be given paracetamol.” One of the workers, Segun Arowolo, alleged that their Chinese boss, who was simply identified as Mr Ten, was not concerned about the incident.
He said, “These Chinese men are wicked; we had told them before that the machine was faulty but they did not answer us until today (Friday) that the boy wanted to pour materials into it and he was electrocuted and died immediately. The guy was left unattended to until his colleagues gathered to resuscitate him. “One of the Chinese, called Mr Ten, was standing, looking at us and smoking without making any effort to revive Joseph. They maltreat workers here; any little mistake, they will slap, beat or sack us.”