28th March, 2012
Workers of the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission (NITEL) staged a rally on Tuesday in Abuja in protest against the management’s failure to pay their nine months salaries.
The protesters led by Comrade Elias Kazzah, the President of the Senior Staff Association of Communication Transportation and Corporation (SSACTAC), NITEL branch, also called for the removal of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hajiya Zainab Sa’ab.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Kazzah said NITEL staff had not received salaries for almost a year, while the management continued to spend on other things.
He explained that the presidential task-force on the restructuring of NITEL in 2010 retained 380 people as transitional staffers and made available money for payment of salaries for six months.
He said that because the restructuring could not be completed within the six months period, such staffers had to continue to work.
Kazzah, however, said it was regrettable that the staffers had to work for nine months without salaries.
“Each time we call on the management they would say there is no money.
“Unfortunately when the BPE asked for the statement of the account we discovered there is about 600 million in the account; this money can be able to cover our outstanding salary, why not pay us.
“The CEO has bluntly refused to pay us these outstanding salaries despite the availability of funds; but she has engaged on some kind of spending unnecessarily up to the tune of N800 million without considering the welfare of the workers.”
He said that members of staff and the union had been brainstorming on how to meet with the management and dialogue, stressing that it appeared that the management was not willing to resolve the issues.
Kazzah then called on the Federal Government to replace the NITEL chief executive with someone else who would have staff welfare at heart.
“It appears this woman is misfit to manage NITEL and workers are worried and are disturbed; we are left with the option to ask government to replace her with somebody who has human face.”
Kazzah said that if the issues were not resolved after due consultation, the unions would have no option than to embark on strike.
Comrade Emmanuel Adu, the National Secretary of the union, decried that the staff have been suffering in the mist of plenty as the company currently had about N600 million.
He disclosed that it would only cost the company N35 million every month to pay workers’ salaries, adding that the N600 million could take care of the outstanding salaries of the workers.
“We cannot be suffering in the midst of plenty: this is a company that has almost N600 million in our account and our salary is N35 million per month for the staff.
They have been using these money to go on foreign trips, embark on unnecessary projects; under one year, legal fees gulped N93 million, yet you cannot pay salary.
“Enough is enough, she must pay salaries,” he stated.
Adu explained that the company had so many sources of revenue accruing to it monthly and as such does not have to rely on government to pay salaries when it can pay the salaries.
He said that the company had Sat-3 fiber optics which so many companies subscribed to as well as DOT (another service which people subscribe to)
He disclosed that the two services generated at least N100 million to the company on a monthly basis which was enough to pay staff salaries of N35 million each month.
“With these two services that we have so far, it’s enough to pay our salaries, the money is there for us to pay our salaries.
“We should not be passing the buck to the federal government, we should be able to pay our salaries. NITEL must be paying their workers’ salary not federal government.”
Meanwhile, attempts to meet members of the NITEL management for comments proved abortive.