May 25, 2011 – Racism Has Started in Nigeria Wakeup Everyone: NigerDock Workers Called Black Monkeys By Their White Bosses
Nigerians Employee of Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, Snake Island, Lagos, have accused one of their white bosses, Mr. Nicholas Marriot, of racially abusing them, calling them “black monkeys.” They claimed that Marriot use the derogatory term while expressing his displeasure about the quality of jobs done by some workers.
The workers said although racial epithets were often used by Marriot, a Briton, and his partner, Mr. Dennis Dale, the highest form of abuse they had ever received occured on Saturday when Marriot called them black monkeys.
The workers, who protested on Wednesday to register their anger, said apart from racial abuse and discrimination, the company’s welfare policy was not labour-friendly.
A spokesperson of the workers and a welder in the offshore department, Mr. Merry Eokula, told PUNCH METRO that the problem had persisted for long but they chose to endure so as not to give the impression that Nigerians were not accommodating.
Eokula said, “We decided to speak out on Saturday when they told us that we were black monkeys. It occurred when we were having a morning safety analysis programme where we talk to one another about the best and safest way to go about our work.
“It was during the exercise that Marriot came and another man, Dennis Dale, came along and said we had to go back to work immediately. Marriot asked why we liked to gather unnecessarily with our ‘black monkey’ attitude all the time. They complained that the quality of work we did was substandard and so on. They used foul languages at us.
“Dale even went further to say he was a Republican and because of that, when he gave an order, people were supposed to promptly obey.”
The workers said whenever they did anything that did not go down well with their expatriate bosses, the company security would be asked to walk them out of the premises.
“They do not appreciate what we do here and they make derogatory remarks at the slightest provocation. They have been enslaving, insulting and pushing us to the walls for a long time and we can no longer bear it. We don’t want the foreigners to see Nigerians as unruly, that is why we have been very cautious in our conduct,” one of the workers said.
They said the ‘black monkey’ episode was reported to the Chief Security Officer of Nigerdock, a Nigerian identified simply as Mr. Eyo, who in turn reported the matter to the company’s Managing Director, Mr. Chris Benett.
The workers, who displayed placards with inscriptions to make their feelings known, alleged among many other things that they were not enjoying the privileges their counterparts in other companies were enjoying.
An employee, who craved anonymity, said he had been working in the company for nine years and had never gone on leave once, adding that the company was in the habit of sacking them arbitrarily.
He said, “If one sustains an injury while at work, one could be sacked. If one says or does anything that does not go down well with a white boss, one could be sacked.
“We are paid like slaves. We are treated like casual workers, while we are the ones doing all the work. It is a violation of the Nigerian local content policy.
“For a foreigner to come to Nigeria and call us ‘black monkeys’ is an insult to our President and all our leaders because that implies they are monkeys too. It is an insult to all Nigerians. We have worked with other foreigners who were very good people before. Nigeria is a peace-loving nation and we don’t want to pass a wrong message across.
“We are calling on the Nigerian government to save us in Nigerdock. This place is called Snake Island, but we call it ‘Slave Island,’ because we are nothing but slaves here the way we are being treated.”
The workers appealed to the Nigerian Labour Congress to take up the case.
“We urge the government to send a delegate here as soon as possible to verify our claims,” another worker said.
A source in the company, who was not one of the protesters, said what the workers experienced on a daily basis was colonisation, adding that their sufferings on a daily basis was unimaginable.
When he was contacted on the phone, the company’s Administrative Manager, Mr. Joe Boulous, simply said, “The allegations have been investigated and found to be untrue and unsubstantiated.”
When asked to make a specific response to the alleged anti-labour welfare policy of the company, he said the information provided to our correspondent was not enough for him to verify such “general” allegations.
Boulous said, “This is a general question. I can’t verify the claim unless you can give me the name of the particular employee who said he had not gone on leave for nine years.
“We are leaders in this industry. The company will never do such a thing to its employees.”
How can the goverment of this country tolerate this act of racism on their own soil ?