By Esenvosa Izah
Lagos – Trade unions in Dangote Flour Mill (DPM) on Wednesday staged a protest over non-payment of workers’ gratuities since 2012.
Mr Gbenga Ekundayo, the Chairman, of Lagos State Chapter of Trade Union Congress (TUC), said that an agreement was signed between the employers in the Food and Beverages Industry and the FOBTOB members in 2008 that gratuities would be paid annually to workers.
“All companies including, DFM, complied and DFM continued to pay its workers until 2012 and since then the gratuities stopped.
“It is not acceptable, proper; even if there is need for changes, it is only proper that when changes will be made in agreement, you will go back to the same agreement table to make the changes.
“We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Nigige and Alhaji Aliko Dangote to intervene by appealing to the management to pay what is due to the workers, ” he said.
The chairman said that information had reached the union that DFM had been sold to Olam Group International.
According to him, on Nov. 1, the new company will take over DFM.
“Who are going to pay these accrued gratuities owed since 2012? Is the new buyer going to pay the liability or DFM pays before handing over.
“Security begins with social security; people having the assurance that their entitlements are paid where they work.
“These are the hopes that keep people away from crimes; if people have to go through this, how much do we expect that we will keep ourselves safe in the society. ”
Mr Jimoh Oyibo, the National Deputy President, Food Beverages and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), said the workers would not relent in their agitation until the management acceded to their demands.
According to him, FOBTOB is a recognised labour body in the country and as such has procedures in addressing issues.
“Our members are agitating for what is due to them; we are not asking for salary increase, appraisal or more members to do the work.
“Wee only asking what is due to us; as long as DFM refuses to obey the rules, we will continue the struggle and never give up, ” Oyibo said.
The Deputy General Secretary of FOBTOB, Lagos Branch, Miss Jumoke Oladimeji, said that workers had held several meetings with the management which always ended in deadlock.
Oladimeji called on the management to work out the modalities on how to pay the gratuity before handing over to the new company.
“What we are asking for is quality life after retirement; gratuity is what our members can use to start good lives after retirement, ” she said.