by crossriverwatch admin
A management meeting of cement makers UNICEM was briefly disrupted yesterday following a peaceful protest by UNICEM Host Communities Youth Forum and some staff of the company under the auspices of the National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber Leather and Non-Metallic Products NUCFRLANMPE, an affiliate of the Nigerian Labor Congress, NLC.
The management of UNICEM has been having an all year altercation with the youths who are accusing the Admin Manager of the company, Mr. Peter Ogunkunle of discrimination and high handedness and are insisting that he must be removed.
The youths on the 18th of February, 2013 led a protest to the company with 17 point demands with the major crux being the removal of Mr. Ogunkunle and his replacement with a ‘son of the soil’.
Some of the youths were arrested by police, charged to court and detained at the Afokang prison and the cases are still continuing in Court.
The company branch of NUCFRLANMPE also petitioned the management over discrimination against Cross Riverians from the Human Resource Director’s Office.
But matters have remained unresolved with both sides refusing to yield to the several interventions.
The Labor Union, with support from the Host Community Youth Forum yesterday Wednesday, again staged a peaceful protest that disrupted management meeting and grounded operations for hours.
The protesters were in two groups, one group was at the company’s main plant at Mfamosin, Akpabuyo LGA and another group at the head office in Calabar where the management meeting was on going.
The placards bearing protesters forced their way into the company’s premises, those who work in the company were able to switch the lighting system off and seized the General Manager’s car keys from the driver while chanting slogans and singing, insisting that the GM must come and address them.
The Police were promptly invited by the management to come and control the situation. Then Mr. Ayi Ita Ayi, the Corporate Affairs Director of the company came out to address the protesters.
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the management, Mr. Ayi said, “We have heard you but please be cautious because those not from here are threatened, the tempo is palpable.
“We know that if we don’t respond cordially this will become a regular act which is drawing us back, the Police or Army cannot stay with us here twenty-four hours. We are not insensible but please let no harm befall Peter Ogunkunle.”
Sales Director of the company, Mr. William Anam who also addressed the protesters lauded them for their peaceful approach and urged them not to overheat the situation now that the settlement process is ongoing.
Earlier, NUCFRLANMPE branch Chairman, Comrade Kopona Bassey Eteng who led the protesters said they are unionists who work according to planned agreement.
He maintained that the protest was occasioned by the continued silence of management after receiving several of their letters; “If not that a copy was sent to the overall boss in Paris, France we would have still being wallowing ourselves in this squalor.”
Also speaking, the Host Communities Youth Forum President, Comrade Paul Effiong expressed happiness saying “I am pleased that now the real owners of the company are around and seeing with their own eyes how aggrieved both the host communities and Staff and the Labor Union are disillusioned with the attitude of some highly placed staff in the company.”
Mr. Mike Abuo, the Director General of Cross River State Political Network, CRISPON also told CrossRiverWatch that, “Our organization is solidly in support of the action of the Union and the Youths. We agree that the investment by UNICEM in our state is a good development that has one way or the other helped the state. But their operations are not following global best practices and the company is bent on using security agencies to silence us but we refuse to be silenced.”
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