Ex-workers appeal to Kwara governor-elect over unpaid two-year salaries, benefits

Former staff of Kwara state-owned moribund sugar company, Tate Industries plc, have appealed to the incoming government in the state to effect payment of their two years salaries and other benefits.

The ex-workers, who staged a peaceful protest on the site of the defunct company on Wednesday, lamented that successive governments in the state since the company folded up in 1998 had turned deaf ears to the payment of their two years salaries.

With such messages as “Save our souls”, “We are cheated”, “Many of us have died because of no money for medicals”, “We the entire staff are not considered”, the protesters said that number of affected staff affected was 250, urging the incoming administration of Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to look into their plight.

One of the spokespersons of the affected staff, Adegboye Gabriel, said that “Tate Industries Plc was one of the enviable and flourishing manufacturing companies established during the first Republic in Nigeria. Things were going on smoothly for all workers then.

“Payment of salaries of workers was regular until early 1994 when payment of salaries and other relevant social benefits accrued to workers became staggered. We lamented in serious agony for the solution but to no avail. Series of meetings between staff union and management with a view to solving the problem of non-payment of salaries yielded no positive results.

“Presently, there is a backlog of salary arrears of two years, leave allowances and disengagement benefits of workers numbering about 250 yet to be paid.

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“Our coming here today is to appeal to the Kwara state government to review the written terms of the settlement made between the two parties (Tate Industries Plc and state government). At this juncture, we want to announce to the whole world and to interested members of the public that we were active workers in this company until it folded up in the
year 1998.

“Sadly, many of our co-workers have died, of course in the midst of running up and down for economic survival as a result of unexpected stoppage of the source of income arising from the total closure of production activities in the factory”, he said.

Mr Gabriel, who put the worth of the company as at 1998 during its closure at about N2billion, said that “it is worthy of note that some of our staff members served the company up 25 years, 20 years, 15 years and 10 years, but are yet to get their benefits till date.

“To our dismay, the state government took over the factory land to convert it to an extension of the Kwara state Univerity (KWASU) in defiance to the interest of our workers to maximize its own vested interest.

“In this respect, the workers took the matter to court for the solution but eventually the court urged the two parties to settle the dispute out of court. During the settlement, Tate workers were given only nine plots to offset the entitlement of 200 workers.

“How can 200 workers share the value of nine plots to equate the benefits accrued to people who had worked for 25 years down to a minimum of five years service?

“We are using this medium to plead to the government to monetize the land for us or pay our final entitlements as workers of Tate Industries Plc”, he said.

Another speaker, Daniel Azira said: “We are appealing to the incoming government to come to our aide. Between 15 and 20 per cent of our
colleagues have died; their children have been thrown out of school. We don’t have any other hope again except government have mercy on us and pay our entitlements and two years’ salary arrears.

“We are appealing to the incoming government to set aside the judgment of the state High Court concerning the issue and help us. The elderly ones are dying, even those of us that still have energy cannot get the job to do. The jobs are not there”, he said.

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