By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives yesterday urged the Federal Government to reconsider the privatisation of Delta Steel Company (DSC), Ovwian-Aladja, and investigate the unfriendly labour policy of the Indian firm which acquired it a few years ago.
The DSC was privatised in 2005 and about 80 percent of the shares sold to Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited (GINL), a company owned by Indians while Nigerian Government retained the remaining 20 per cent.
Sponsor of the motion, Hon. Sadiq Mohammed, described the policy of the new investors as slavish, oppressive, obnoxious and discriminatory.
He lamented that even though the Federal Government had equity shares in the firm, it left the management and control of the company in the hands of the new investors, while taxes deducted from the workers’ salaries were never remitted to the Board of Internal Revenue.
According to the lawmaker, workers currently in the employ of DSC were not paid their monthly salaries as and when due, labour unionism has been outlawed, yet union dues were deducted monthly.
“The severance pay of N5.6b to the workers after privatisation has not been paid by the government leaving many of them in misery while some have died with their entitlement unpaid. Also, contributory pension and thrift and cooperative deductions are made monthly from the workers’ salaries and allowances but never remitted to the relevant bodies.
“More worrisome is the fact that the Management staff of the company are casualized, while female workers who get pregnant are not allowed to go on three month maternity leave as they are only given 10 days against Labour laws,” he said.
The House urged the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), the Federal Ministry of Steel and Solid Mineral Development and the Federal Ministry of Finance to pay the workers their severance package and monetisation entitlements without delay.
The lawmakers also urged GINL to remit payee taxes the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); remit contributory pension deducted to the National Pensions Commission (PenCom) and remit cooperative deductions to Cooperative Societies.
In addition, the company was asked to pay all outstanding salaries, gratuities, terminal benefits allowances promptly and that GINL should stop infringing on workers freedom of association granted them by the 1999 Constitution.
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