Labour Union Petition Unicem Management Over Discrimination Against Cross Riverians

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by crossriverwatch admin


Workers of United Cement Company, one of the leading cement industries in the country have protested over the alleged flagrant abuse of office, administrative incompetence, misconduct and excessive high handedness, victimization and nepotism by some highly placed management staff of the company.

The workers under the aegis of National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber Leather and Non-Metalic Products Employee, NUCFRLANMPE, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, in a petition to the Managing Director of the company dated August 12, 2013 and copied to various senior management officials alleged that some of their members had faced various types of discrimination while some had lost their appointments as a result of nepotism by some highly placed officials in the Human Resource unit.

The workers accused the Human Resource unit of introducing lopsided hay grading which they claimed was degrading and discouraging productivity amongst workers and was tended to bring low esteem and out rightly violated basic principles of labor law and infringed on Section 34 (A-C) of the 1999 Constitution.

The petition which was signed by Comrades Blessed Okokon Effiom and Ayuk Peter Ayuk, branch chairman and secretary of the union respectively also accused some of the management staff of embarking on ethnic cleansing.

“There is a high degree conflict of interest exhibited by HRD (Human Resources Department) as situation where sensitive positions are manned by one favored ethnic group at the expense of other more qualified and experienced workers is detrimental, discriminatory and injurious to the growth and productivity of the company,” the union alleged.

It was gathered that as a result of the alleged sack of some workers of the company who are indigenes of Cross River State which is the host state and their replacement with people from a particular ethnic group of the country, some youths from the host community are planning to stage a protest.

One Bassey Asuquo who claimed to come from the host community complained that there was a grand design to remove some of their kinsmen from the employ of the company and replace them with people who he claimed were less qualified to hold some sensitive positions.

“Apart from the fact that he is tactically terminating the employments of Cross Riverians in key positions under the guise of the Nigerian labor act, and filling same positions with non Cross Riverians. While preaching headcount reduction it will also surprise you to know that new positions are created as often as he and the MD desires and filled up with non Cross Riverians.

“Apart from the bogus scheme used to ensure that expatriates are brought into Nigeria for jobs not approved in the expatriate quota, they have also ensured that the Nigerian government and indeed Cross River State is continuously deceived into believing that each expatriate has an understudy who will not only ensure that knowledge is transferred and retained but also be ready to take over once such expatriate leave, by providing fake list of understudy.

“Hay Group, a consulting firm in South Africa trained 15 staff for the project and together with the consultants the staff executed a wide job evaluation exercise to move Unicem from the Job Band System of grading to the Hay Grade system.

“In line with the training and the hay grade principle, the final alignment and adjustments were to be done by the consultant with the support of the staff before validation by EXCOM, but the HRD personally changed some people’s evaluation results downgrading some people(Cross Riverians) and upgrading others(his tribe) simply based on sentiments. “

However, it was gathered that the grudges of the union was being handled by the management and the national officials of the union as the union had waded into the brewing crisis.

When the Human Resources Director of the company Peter Okunkule was contacted to confirm the allegations against his department he said that it was not part of his job to talk to the press, but the National Vice Chairman of the union told CrossRiverWatch that he was surprised to hear that a petition was given to the press when efforts were on to settle the problem.

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