The number of sacked workers in M. Saleh and company limited, Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River State branch, has reached five, CrossRiverWatch investigation reveals.
As at Thursday, February 11, 2021, Thursday, four (Ubong Umana – welding, Edet Akpakpan – turner machine operator, Stanley: other name yet to be verified – store keeper, Aniebiet Thompson were pen down for sack. Idong Tom was added to the list on Friday, making the numbers of staff to be sacked hastily on Sunday, 28 February, 2021 five.
The decision to sack five workers came up after over 60 workers in the less than a hundred work force company protested poor working condition and demanded salary increase.
Protest Against Poor Working Condition And Pay Rise
The protest where the majority of M. Saleh and company limited staff registered their desire for increased salary and improved working condition took place at EPZ premises, Calabar Free Trade Zone, Wednesday, February 3, 2021. It had staff from different department in the company in attendance.
The protest was staged after management of the over fifty year’s old company failed to increase their salary as promised severally. The workers investigation reveals that, after receiving January salary on Tuesday, February 2 realized that, their cry had fallen on deaf ears decided to take the bull by the horn.
The next day being Wednesday, February 3, the workers who felt sulky staged a peaceful protest, where their demands were noted again by the management.
“After seeing the level of seriousness in our peaceful protest, they asked for the leaders and we sent our five representatives – Edet Akpakpan, Bassey Ekpe, Ubong Umana, Ogar Lawrence and Godwin Omina. Management of the company scheduled a closed door meeting with the five representatives on Monday, February 8, 2021. The meeting ended with the management agreeing to increase the salary and working condition of the angry staff,” a top level management inside source reveals.
Aftermath Of The Protest
Investigation reveals that, the Calabar branch of the company got clearance from the headquarters in Port Harcourt where the Manager of the company, Nabil Ahmed Saleh operates from to sack the leaders of the protesting staff as a way of shutting them down.
Upon implementing the decision of the company, three names were replaced with people who have nothing to do with the organising and executing the protest, CrossRiverWatch findings revealed.
The leaders of the protest who dialogued with the management that was ordered to be sacked are Edet Akpakpan, Bassey Ekpe, Ubong Umana, Ogar Lawrence and Godwin Omina. Those eventually sacked are Ubong Umana, Edet Akpakpan, Idong Tom, Stanley other name yet to be verified and Aniebiet Thompson while Bassey Ekpe, Ogar Lawrence and Godwin Omina magically escaped.
“At the meeting, the agreement was to increase their salary at the month end. But to our greatest surprise, they were pen down for sack. M. Saleh is known for such, they’re not straightforward, we at EPZ are always very careful of them because they are notoriously powerful among other companies.
“How do you think it was possible to replace names to be sacked if an insider of high repute is not involved? The truth is that the three people replaced, Bassey, Lawrence and Godwin are very close friend to Abbas and I can bet my life that he did the magic. Check it out, Abbas is that Supervisor of Electrical and Mechanical department, Bassey is Mechanical, Godwin is in Electrical department and Lawrence is in Welding department where the influence of Abbas is heavily felt.
“Abbas is a major problem in that company, I am not afraid of his diabolical means, the truth is more important, I left because of his evil ways and today I’m doing better. We were happy to see them protest because we know that on paper they’re the best but in reality, they’re bad. They use the staff bus to cover a lot of things, without the staff bus, some would use their salary for only transportation.” A former staff disclosed.
Among the five staff penned for sack on Sunday, February 28, 2021, Idong Tom CrossRiverWatch investigation reveal has a special case.
Idong Tom had put in his resignation letter long before the protest and was not among the protesters but, he was marked for sack. “Tom issue is completely unfair because he had been complaining bitterly about the condition of work and had put in his resignation letter December 2020 after several failed promises, and I was privilege to know that they pleaded with him not to go that there will be increase, Abbas was one of those who pleaded, now same Abbas want to be smart.” Andem Bassey said.
He went on to ask that, “Why sack someone who applied to resign? Why sack workers for exercising their fundamental right? Why not just add something to their salary when we all know Calabar is the production center for M. Saleh? You have not gotten the main gist yet, this company is very stingy, my cousin left them when he discovered they have two pay structures, on Government record the pay is different from what you get in your employment letter. Imagine you’re collecting NGN30, 000 while on Government record you are collection over NGN100, 000.”
As at press time, the company with branches in Abuja, Lagos, Cross River, Rivers and Kano States which is managed by Nabil Ahmed Saleh, President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) has been contacted for comment and is yet to respond.
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