18th July, 2011
Staff of the New Nigerian Newspapers Limited, under the aegis of the Joint Workers Consultative Committee, JWCC, and the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, have issued a 14-day ultimatum to their employers over the latterâ€™s alleged breach of several agreements reached between them.
In a letter titled â€˜Re-Congress Resolutionâ€™ and addressed to the Managing Director of the company, the workers said their current demands were part of the decisions reached during the unionâ€™s general congress held on 7 July, 2011.
Though they did not state what they would do after the expiration of the ultimatum, the letter signed on their behalf by four leaders including Saidu Bello, Joint Chairman of the JWCC of the Newspaper organisation comprising the National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers, NUPPPPROW and the NUJ at a general congress contains the resolutions reached at the congress.
These include â€œthat the hardship workers are passing through as a result of non-payment of salaries for about seven months has affected workers and their immediate families as they can no longer feed their families, pay their house rents, childrenâ€™s school fees and transportation to and from the office among others.â€
The workers also declared that the Northern Governors Forum, owner of the newspaper company, â€œhad failed in addressing the problems of the New Nigerian Newspapers as a result of its inability to honour series of financial pledges made to the company, release of the promised life-line and delay in the privatization process of the company.â€
They said they wanted the immediate payment of their seven months salary arrears from December 2010 to June 2011 while stressing that as a matter of urgency, workers of the company want the settlement of all unpaid arrears and benefits such as gratuity and unpaid accumulated pension.
Particularly, they stressed the increment of N7, 500 which was conveyed to them through a circular on 5 May 2000, but was not implemented since then. Another increment of 12.5 per cent was made on 9 December 2003 which was supposed to be effected from 1 October 2003 to December 2006 with 39 months arrears, but was breached by the employers.
A third increment of 15 per cent conveyed through a circular to the workers on 18 January 2007 with effect from 1 January 2007was not implemented according to them.
The unions said they wanted an update of the staff salaries to reflect the most recent minimum wage.
By Eromosele Ebhomele