Workers Protest In Ilorin Over Pay

OVER 50 disengaged workers of the liquidated Nigeria Paper Mills Jebba, Kwara state, Saturday, staged a peaceful protest in Ilorin, appealing to President Jonathan to intervene over the alleged non-payment of their emoluments.

   The aggrieved workers displaying placards with unprintable contents, marched through the popular Offa Road, Ilorin, sensitising members of the public on their plight.

   According to their spokesman, Kayode Asemah, many of the workers had put in over 30 years of service before the liquidation of the mills, but were surprised that the highest paid official among them got a paltry sum of N70,000 at the point of disengagement.

   Asemah, who sobbed like a baby, mourning the ordeals of his colleagues, especially those that have been turned into paupers, widows or widowers, due to the alleged deprivation of their perquisites, said they have lost over 50 members since the company went into bankruptcy, 14 years ago.

   Besides, he urged President Jonathan to holistically re-visit the activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) who supervised the liquidation exercises, “especially the one that affected the workers.”

   He added: “Senior managers who worked for the company for 30 years were given N70,000. Even seven years before the liquidation, we were not paid any salary, because the mill was not in operation. When the BPE would calculate our emoluments, it used the 1994 rate for the liquidation that occurred in the year 2001. There were years in which we were only paid our basic salaries. In the process, some of our members got as low as N3,000 only.

  “We have no means of going to court. We have explored all the available means to no avail. That is why we are begging the President to come to our aid. Our members are dying daily because they have no means of going to the hospitals over minor ailments. Our children are out of school just as our wives have become labourers.”

   Asemah said his members had since been ejected from their official quarters turning them into squatters who have no means to re-settle in their various places of nativity, “and become farmers for survival.”

   Mrs. Lydia Aina, who lost her husband some seven years ago, leaving behind eight children, said none of her children is presently at school, citing “poverty due to non payment of my entitlements.”

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