WorldStage Newsonline-- Automobile arm of Steel and Engineering Workers’ Union of Nigeria (SEWUN) said pay cuts at Steyr Nigeria Limited had exposed its members to untold hardship.
According to the union, the development started since the company was privatized by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) few years ago, even though the company received the sum of N280 million to effect the severance benefits inherited from the privatization process.
In a statement signed by the union’s General Secretary, Comrade Micheal Ogbolu and Principal Deputy General Secretary, Comrade P. E. Okonma, the union alleged that management of the company doctored the then prevailing collective agreement governing severance benefits in the company and that the company unilaterally retrenched their employees and paid them peanuts breaching Section 20 Labour Act 2004. This action is inhuman and exploitative.
Ogbolu said that the development did not only defeat the Federal Government determination to address the threat posed by unemployment, but had subjected families and their wards to pains and agonies. “What we are witnessing at Steyr Nigeria Ltd is at variance with government’s plan, as the company has remained out of production since privatization. This goes to say that the BPE betrayed their oath of office to sell the once prosperous company to their present owners, Scintilla Group who have no expertise on the operations of the company sold to them,” said Ogbolu.
The union also stated that since Scintilla Group came on board, management had been busy selling the assets of the company. “The latest being the Lagos Office situated No 5, Akinyemi Crescent, Off Fatai Atere Way, Matori, Oshodi, said the union.”
SEWUN added further that workers had not been paid their salaries for six months now running. “The company has not kept faith with the National Joint Industrial Council, N.J.I.C Collective Agreement in the Automobile Boatyards Transport Equipment and Allied Industry which they are signatory to dated 20th December, 2010 which raised minimum wage from N23, 000 to N30, 500 in the industry, effective October 2010.”
The peak of management’s flagrant abuse of workers’ right, said Ogbolu was the order given to employees following the sale of Lagos office to report to their Bauchi Corporate Office, without payment of requisite benefits, or resign their appointment.
SEWUN therefore called on the Federal Government, well meaning Nigerians and civil society groups to step into the issue, with a view to stamping out inhuman treatments being meted out to Nigerians working in the company and other companies where the similar things were happening.