Former employees of the Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom State-based Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), on Wednesday protested peacefully against the prolonged non-payment of their severance and gave a two-week ultimatum to Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE ) and Pension Transition Administration Department (PTAD) to pay their entitlements or face legal actions.
Convener of the protest, Mr. Hope Ufot Wilfred, alleged that the BPE had carried out a verification exercise for disengaged workers of the company in 2012 which did capture every staff.
According to him, while ALSCON had a total number of 1,805, the names of 562 of the employees were omitted during the exercise from the company’s nominal roll, a development which prompted the government to direct PTAD to conduct another staff verification exercise in 2019 as a precondition for the payment of severance benefits.
Wilfred expatiated: ‘’Most of us were employed at various times and we had 1,805 workers who worked with ALSCON. The problem is that over time we have been deprived of our entitlements.
”The federal government in a bid to resolve the grievances decided to capture the complete number of staff who worked with ALSCON.
“A verification exercise was conducted in late 2019 and we all participated. We brought all necessary documents including letters of appointment, disengagement letter, promotion letters, confirmation letters, payslips, and other documents to attest that you were a staff of the company.
”We were given a printout and verified as workers of ALSCON but when the money was paid 562 of us were omitted from the payroll. This is a total injustice. We need our money and they must pay us our money.
”I think an omission is a deliberate act because PTAD captured the total number of workers who had worked with ALSCON but for them to come and tell us that our names were not in the nominal roll presented to them by BPE sounds suspicious. The question is why did they conduct the verification?”, the convener queried.
Commenting on the old employees’ action, ALSCON’s representative of the Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN), Mr. Emem Valentine, was quoted as saying that said the union was discussing with the relevant agencies of government to resolve the problem of the unpaid entitlements of the affected staff.
He expressed optimism that the affected employees would be paid their entitlements.