Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nigeria - Nitel workers picket BPE office over unpaid salaries

[daily trust] Aggrieved workers of the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, MTEL, returned to picket the Bureau of Public Enterprises' (BPE) office yesterday to press home their demand of payment of over 18 months salaries owed them.

About one hundred of the workers who came from many states of the federation converged at the BPE office, staging a blockade to disallow staff of the agency from accessing the office.

In November last year, the National Privatisation Council (NCP) which is chaired by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan approved the five months payment to the staff out of the 17 months owed them then. This was to cover the period the federal government had controlled the once vibrant telecom firm after revoking its sale to Transcorp on June 1, 2009.

BPE spokesman Mr Chigbo Anichebe had told Daily Trust that: "The NCP approved that N3 billion be borrowed from the accounts of NITEL Pension Fund in Liquidation to pay five months salary of workers of the Nigeria Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) and rent for the offices of NITEL and its mobile arm, M-tel."

After almost a weeklong protest in December by NITEL staff , the BPE DG had gave his words to them that the payment was going to be paid in tranches as approved by the NCP. One month was to be paid in November, two in December, and balance of two in January.

E-Amin Abdullahi, one of the three ad-hoc officials representing the staff who had a meeting with the BPE in December said till now, only one month has been paid which necessitated their return to BPE yesterday.

At the renewed effort to get their salaries paid yesterday, e-Amin said the BPE admitted failure on their part for not making the payment as promised and that the DG once again asked for time to sort things out, having had a meeting with the Vice President last week.

One Mr Ajadi is said to be the liquidator of the company and was mandated to make the payment but has failed so far.All effort to reach the BPE spokesman, Mr Chigbo Anichebe yesterday proved abortive as he did not return the call placed to him before press time.

Nitel Workers Picket BPE Office Over Unpaid Salaries

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