Workers at the troubled Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd. ( ASCOL), in Kogi State on Wednesday said that the company was not in succession crisis as being alleged in some quarters.
The workers, under the aegis of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN) and Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN), dismissed the insinuations in a joint statement issued in Lokoja, Wednesday.
The workers also denied accusing the leadership of ASCOL of breaching financial and administrative regulations of the company, describing a petition allegedly written on their behalf by one, Salifu Oguche Usman as unauthorized and frivolous.
Usman, had in the petition addressed to the Minister of Steel Development, alleged that the workers had accused the management of the ASCOL under Mr Joseph Isah as Sole Administrator of abuse of office, among other allegations.
The statement by the two unions was signed by their Chairmen, Mr Nuhu Salawu and Mr Usman Bashir and Secretaries for ISSSAN, Mr Attah James and Mr Atabo Omebo for SEWUN.
“We, members of ISSSAN and SEWUN, Ajaokuta Branch, have not consulted, talked to, briefed nor solicited the assistance of anybody, let alone, the said Mr Salifu Oguche Usman to write any petition on our behalf on matters of succession in the company or any other matter therein, “ the workers said.
According to the unions, the process of appointing or removing the Chief Executive officer of Ajaokuta Steel Company is largely political and at the discretion of Federal Government.
“At no point did workers appoint chief executives for the organization. In the case of Isah, it is true he was employed in 1982 and appointed Sole Administrator in 2012.
“We also know as of fact that when Isah was appointed Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Plant, Mr A.Y Ibrahim was also appointed Sole Administrator of the National Iron Ore Mining Company, (NIOMCO), Itakpe, in November 2012.
“As at the time of the appointment of Ibrahim to head NIOMCO, Itakpe, he had already retired from public service and his appointment stood till he voluntarily withdrew his services and the current Chief Executive Officer was appointed to take over.
“It is also a fact the current NIOMCO Chief Executive Officer, had also retired before his current appointment,” the statement explained.
The unions also stated that the issue of 2012 promotion arrears raised in the petition had since been addressed by the management of the steel company.
“ All the relevant documentations have been sent to the Federal Government.
“We in the Union have made several follow ups to the Office of the Accountant- General of the Federation and we are confident that all staff who are qualified will be paid when the Federal Government does so as assured during the 2017 Civil Service Week by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
“It should also be noted that all salaries and allowances of our memebrs are being paid directly to their accounts through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) of the Federal Government and no funds associated with salaries of workers come to Ajaokuta,” the unions said.
The workers then appealed to the “ emergency social advocates” who they claimed were ill-informed on ASCOL matters to stop the cheap blackmail and not cause disharmony between them and the management.
Labour Lauds Rivers Assembly Over Power Devolution
The organised labour in Rivers State has commended the Rivers State House of Assembly for backing power devolution in the country.
Speaking to The Tide, the chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Beatrice Itubo explained that the decision of the members of the assembly is a step in the right direction and good for the unity and stability of the country.
Itubo added that the lawmakers should call for contributions and input of the key stakeholders before passing into law several bills in the House.
She stressed that allowing critical stakeholders to make input would strengthen the tenets of democracy in the state and indeed Nigeria as majority of the people would better appreciate the bills through dissemination from the stakeholders.
She enjoined the Assembly to reexamine the issue of the local government autonomy proposed by both chambers of the National Assembly, stressing that the congress strongly believe that granting autonomy to the local government councils in Nigeria would strengthen and deepen democracy in the country.
The NLC boss added that the organised labour would continue to mobilize its members to support the assembly to perform its constitutional legislative duties in the state.
She further explained that labour in the state is prepared to partner the assembly in its determination to address the plight of the workers in the state.
She added that the organised labour would continue to commend the state government in its efforts to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Ex-NLC Boss Tasks FG On Minimum Wage
A former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Abdulwaheed Omar has urged the Federal Government to always implement the law on regular review of the national minimum wage to promote national growth.
Omar gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja last Monday.
He said that the call for government to tackle the issue about minimum wage review had become important because of the delay in the implementation of the law.
According to him, the national minimum wage law prohibits employers from hiring workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly take home pay.
“The law was established to address issues faced by workers, I think the cause for review of the national minimum is welcomed; it is just that it is almost belated.
“The issue of minimum wage is an aspect of our law; it is now part of our law in Nigeria, so I did not even expect that it will take much time.
“In the first place, the law provides that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years; the five years elapsed since 2015.
“So, I had expected that that very year government should have set up a tripartite committee then.
“It is not something that government should wait until NLC threatens to embark on strike before it sets up committee, it is about the law that should be respected,” Omar said.
He said although government had promised to review the national minimum wage by the third quarter of the year, it should put measures in place to sustain such and ensure effective implementation.
He said the N18, 000 minimum wage was long overdue for review and urged government to act promptly to improve the economic well-being of workers.
PenCom Recovers N1.34bn Pension
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has recovered pension contributions and interest totalling N1.34billion from defaulting employers during the third quarter of 2017.
The Commission in its 2017 third quarter report posted on its website said it used 55 consultants as recovery agents to get back the outstanding pension contributions and penalties from the defaulting employers.
PenCom said the affected employers were issued with appropriate notice to remit the outstanding pension contributions.
“During the quarter, the sum of N1.34 billion was recovered, this brings the total recoveries made since inception of the Recovery Agents’ activities in 2012 to N13.58 billion,” it stated.
On Pension contributions within the period, it indicates that the total monthly pension contribution by contributors from the public and private sectors into their Retirement Saving Accounts (RSA) was N4.38 trillion.
This, it said showed an increase of N135.22 billion representing 3.18 per cent over the total contributions as at the end of the previous quarter.
According to the report, the aggregate total contribution shows that the public sector contributed 51.34 per cent, while the private sector contributed the remaining 48.64 per cent.
It, however, pointed out that during the quarter under review; the public sector contributed 40.87 per cent of the total contributions received while the private sector contributed 59.13 per cent.
It further revealed that the aggregate total pension contribution of the private sector increased from N2.05 trillion as at second quarter of 2017 to N2.13 trillion as at third quarter of 2017, representing a growth of 3.89 per cent.
Also, the aggregate total pension contribution by the public sector grew by 2.52 per cent from N2.20 trillion to N2.25 trillion over the same period.
The statement noted that the commission continued the ongoing refund of contributions made by military and other security service agencies personnel exempted from the contributory pension scheme.
It added that during the quarter under review, the department responsible for military pensions processed 254 applications for the refund.
PenCom said N39.83 million was refunded to the contributors while the sum of N127.13 million, representing contributions made by the Federal Government on their behalf was returned to the contributory pension account.
The statement also indicated that 27 state governments have enacted laws to implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as at the third quarter of 2017, while eight states were currently in the process of implementing the CPS law.
The report revealed that Yobe was, however, yet to commence the process of enacting a law on the CPS.
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