6th January, 2017
A former staff of British American Tobacco Nigeria, Oluwasegun Falana, has accused the company of dehumanising Nigerians working with conglomerate.
Falana who worked at the headquarters of the tobacco company in Ibadan, Oyo State for many years said the company knew that he had a liver problem but refused to disclose it to him.
He stated that many former staff are suffering from different types of health issues but they get no support from BAT Nigeria, stressing that his experience is just one of many.
“I was diagnosed of a deadly liver problem in June 2014 during the compulsory periodical medical examination as stated in Labour Act.
“The company doctor played down the result and refused to produce a printed report when it was requested for.
“I trusted her and decided not to bother her about the report,” he said.
“In August 2015, a diagnostic organisation (name withheld) conducted a voluntary medical test for Liver related disease and handed over the result to me directly.
“It was this report that revealed what British American Tobacco, Ibadan Management was hiding from me.”
He then pointed out that about a year ago, Charlse Kyalo, a Kenyan worker died inside BATN factory (in front of Operation Director’s House). “This was secretly covered up because the man’s death was related to health, stress and overwork issues,” he said.
In their response to Falana’s claim, BAT Nigeria said it is investigating the matter because it adhere strictly to our Environment, Health & Safety policy implementation.
In an email response by Oluwaseyi Ashade, Head of Corporate Affairs, BAT Nigeria, the company has maintained zero incidence of work place injuries for eight years. “According to Freddy Messanvi, Legal & External Affairs Director, “These new allegations have been made by a group of former employees who left BAT Nigeria between 2015 and 2016.
“We take these kinds of allegations seriously and are currently investigating them as part of our strict adherence and commitment to workplace safety, which has resulted in us maintaining a zero incidence of work place injuries for the past eight years.
“BAT Nigeria is committed to providing a great and safe place to work as we understand the importance of our people and their welfare in the continued growth and sustainability of our company.
“We adhere strictly to our Environment, Health & Safety policy implementation, which applies to employees, contractors, visitors and suppliers in our Factories and our offices.
“We also abide by the local laws and are compliant with not just the local regulations as required by all relevant local agencies but we also benchmark ourselves against the requirements for labour practices globally, such as the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as provided for by our parent company.
“British American Tobacco Nigeria has existed in Nigeria for over 100 years and we are extremely proud of our heritage, the positive relationship we have enjoyed with the Nigerian people and our reputation as an employer of choice.”
READ OLUWASEGUN FALANA’s submission below:
British American Tobacco is the second biggest tobacco manufacturer and one of the most responsible organisation in the world. But in Nigeria today, the organisation is slipping into a state of irresponsibility.
The only song BAT Nigeria management knows is profit. Despite the fact that BAT is doing great in Nigeria with average daily production of N700 million to N1.35 billion worth of cigarettes, yet employee health is of less concern to BATN.
Many ex-staff are suffering from different type of health issues without support from BAT Nigeria and my experience is just one of many.
Here’s my story. I was diagnosed of a deadly liver problem in June 2014 during the compulsory periodical medical examination as stated in Labour Act. The company doctor played down the result and refused to produce a printed report when it was requested for.
I trusted her and decided not to bother her about the report.
In August 2015, a diagnostic organisation (name withheld) conducted a voluntary medical test for Liver related disease and handed over the result to me directly. It was this report that revealed what British American Tobacco, Ibadan Management was hiding from me.
Since then I have had several discussions with BAT management at different levels for support.
I thought I will receive a favourable response or support, instead my Line Manager (name withheld) was confidently instructed to frustrate me out of the system.
Additional responsibility of one of my colleague that resigned from the company was added to mine without any additional encouragement or support but just to frustrate me to resign. I pleaded severally then my Solicitors wrote the company on my behalf twice but BATN Management remained adamant to help despite not denying my health condition.
This finally led to my resignation (already known to BATN Management six weeks earlier) on 27th of June, 2016. My family solicitor also pleaded on my behalf to BATN Managing Director (Chris Mcallister – British) to assist in the treatment.
Unfortunately, BATN refused once again to help me. British American Tobacco Management is dominated by non-Nigerians and it is very clear that they are only after profit/money, and never moved by illness or death of Nigeria workers/staff.
About a year ago, one worker died inside BATN factory (infront of Operation Director’s House – (Charlse Kyalo – Kenyan). This was secretly covered up because the man’s death was related to health, stress and overwork issues.
If MTN Nigeria can be fined billions of naira for unregistered customers, I wonder what company that is unconcerned with health/death of its employee/worker (right inside the company premises) deserves. This is the second time a worker has died cheaply in same factory in recent years!
It is high time our Honourable Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige; Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; honourable Senators, Honourables of the House of Representatives and other concerned agencies focus more on the activities of Tobacco companies in the country.
This will liberate hundreds of workers maltreated by these organisations.
Moreover, the current recession can be softened by appropriately fining such organisations.