by crossriverwatch admin
The management of United Cement Company, UNICEM in Calabar has been asked to reinstate eight of its staff that were allegedly sacked without reason.
The demand was contained in a letter dated 28th January, 2014 by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC Cross River State Chapter with the reference number NLC/CRS/MD/UNICEM/CAL/1/14 to the management of the cement giant.
The letter which was signed by the Union Chairman and Secretary respectively Comrade John Ushie and Comrade Ita Ayi gave 21 days ultimatum with effect from the date of the letter for the company to comply or face picketing at the expiration of the ultimatum.
The eight alleged sacked staffs are said to be the executive members of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Employee, NUCFRLANMPE, Cross River Chapter.
Mr. Blessed Okon, the State Chapter Chairman told CrossRiverWatch that “On Monday they just called us to the conference room that we are to have a meeting with the Operation Director and we were told that the management don’t need our services anymore, that is we the union executives and they brought letters to that effect but we bluntly refused to take it then we were forced out using the police”.
According to the chairman the reason for sacking them is unknown. Maintaining that “I believe it is related to the previous struggles we had that led to the going of the Human Resource Director, HRD whereas we were called upon to sign a particular document to that effect but we refused, our national body suspended us because we refused to endorse that document which contents we did not partake in drafting.
“The memorandum was drafted by our national body and the management of UNICEM without our knowledge and they expect us to sign it without complain which is not ideal to me so I told them that I will consult my exco members before signing any document, when they were reaching the agreement they asked me and my secretary to excuse them which I believe they alone should endorse because they are part of it not we.
“We know that the fight we fought was not selfish but for all the entire staff who decided to shut down the plant and refused to work on that day, 29th January, 2014 until NLC intervened but work will continue the next day because our aim is not to spoil the company but help it”, Comrade Blessed said.
CrossRiverWatch gathered from some staff who pleaded anonymity that the union leaders were fighting for the sack of the Human Resource Director, a battle which they say has been won. They also alleged that for over ten years they have been working without conditions of service and proper placement of Cross Riverians in the company.
Also speaking to CrossRiverWatch, the Ward Councilor of Ojuk North, Hon. Beatrice Ntui where the company’s plant is situated in Akamkpa revealed that she was once a staff of the cement producing company but was illegally sacked as a result of favouritism. “I was shocked to my bone when I got the disheartening news but be it as it may its bad because only these men of the junior cadre staff fought for the removal of the HRD whereas all the abnormalities we face in this company affects both the junior and senior staff but the senior staff sat back and watch these men suffer unjustly, the decision is wrong and if the company continues like this they won’t have it peacefully because we in the community will not sit back and watch our brothers being maltreated when they are fighting for the benefit of the community and the company, if they want to sack why target some instead of all”. She queried.
The Councilor who is the deputy majority leader in the council legislature advised the management of UNICEM to call back the sacked staff else her the council legislature will be forced to take action against them because it is against their fundamental human rights.
The President of UNICEM Host Communities Youth Association, Comrade Paul Effiong and the Director General of Cross River State Political Network, CRISPON, Comrade Mike Nku Abuo in separate interviews frowned at the action of the company saying that they are not surprised at all about the company’s action noting that it is not the first time that they have forcefully sacked people who want the right thing to be done.
They also expressed happiness that all the junior staff have been librated with the sack of the human resource director and they’ve decided to join in this fight which is good. The urged the worker not to resort to violence because nothing good can come out of it.
The workers were seen with banners bearing the following inscriptions: We need special treatment; Over ten years no condition of service; Stop tribal sentiments and racism etcetera.
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