Some workers of an Indian steel company, African Foundries Limited on the Sagamu-Ikorodu Road, Ogun State, stormed the premises of the company to protest the death of four of their colleagues molten iron poured on them.
The protesting workers claimed to be outrage at the unsafe working environment, poor remuneration and attempted cover-up of the death of the victims by the management of the company.
As of Monday, a large number of trucks that carried scrap lined up the road as they were prevented from entering the company.
The premises were unkempt, as sticks and stone could be seen around. There was heavy presence of policemen and operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Some workers, who spoke with journalists, said the company had asked them not to speak to any member of the public concerning the incident.
They said they were asked to go back home until Tuesday when the company would resume operation, noting that the management had promised to take care of the families of their dead colleagues.
However, a worker, who defied the order, said the company had never been friendly with its workers.
He lamented that many of them had been working with the company for the past 13 years without being staffed.
The worker alleged that anytime a misfortune befell any worker, the company denied responsibility on the claim that they were contract workers.
He said the highest compensation the company ever paid to families of workers who died in the past was N100,000, adding that workers in the steel company were treated like slaves.
He said, “I joined this company in 2006. People have been dying before I started working here; they are still dying. It is a common occurence. The one that happened last Thursday in which four persons died was catastrophic. It used to be one or two persons.
“When it comes to compensation, they label those that die in the course of their work as contract workers.”
A resident of the area, who identified himself only as Bayo, said working in the company was like going on a suicide mission, adding that workers were not safe as industrial accidents were recurrent.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, saidpolicemen were deployed in the area to prevent the protest from escalating as hoodlums wanted to hijack it to loot the company.
“Yes, I am aware of the four workers that died on Thursday. The four workers did not fall from anywhere. There is a place where those workers used to bath after the closing hour.
“They were bathing when the pipe used in melting the iron broke and the content of the pipe poured on them. That was what led to their death.
“The following day, workers staged a protest; policemen were drafted there to ensure that they did not vandalise any property and that no other life was lost during the protest.
“As I speak to you, the coommand is facilitating a meeting between the company and families of the victims. I think they are still negotiating.
“The police have been able to calm the situation,” he said.