The Automobile, Boatyards, Transport, Equipment & Allied Senior Staff Association (AUTOBATE) has dragged Galba Nigeria Ltd to the National Industrial Court (NICN). This was after two years of mounting pressure on management through protests and strike to pay the backlog of unpaid wages, salaries and other several benefits including gratuities and other benefits of the staff and retirees for almost four years.
The Galba management has been very arrogant, dismissing negotiations called to discuss when and how it would pay the outstanding monies. It also refused to show up during meetings called for mediation, conciliation and arbitration by the federal ministry of labour.
Galba is a conglomerates with ten sites in Port Harcourt and three located at Trans Amadi Industrial Estate, The game plan of its management board is to sell the company by declaring liquidation without payment to the poor workers.
These workers are collectively being owed 300 million. About thirteen of them have died due to hardships and inability to pay medical bills due to the non-payment of their wages.
AUTOBATE has directed its zonal officers to organize mass actions that will draw a broader public awareness to the situation of Galba workers across the country. including disobedience. The union has also raised the matter with the IndustriALL Global union, so as to raise international solidarity that could help put pressure on both the Galba management and the state machinery including the NICN. They must know that the whole world is watching.
By June 2019 it will be four years that the workers of Galba have not been paid. Meanwhile, the callous Galba board rents out its premises to three other companies making roughly N1bn annually, without bothering to pay the salaries of Galba staff. Yet, these members of management are walking about as free women and men.
This shows how the dominant class of big business owners who amassed wealth from our labour and the exploitation of our natural resources, using their dominance of society to suppress poor workers from getting justice.
The last four years has taught Galba workers many lessons on how to challenge the greed of capitalists. The first is that we stand on “no retreat, no surrender”. The 2017 strike at Galba forced the British Managing Director to resign his appointment and run home. AUTOBATE and its members still stand on that first lesson – we will not stop this struggle until victory is won.
by Sola OLORUNFEMI