NITEL workers set for nationwide strike over unpaid salaries, allowances
WORKERS of Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), may from February 1, embark on a nationwide protest, should government fail to pay their backlog of severance allowances and salaries.
Mr. Elias Kazzah, President, Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC), NITEL branch, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, on Sunday.
Kazzah said the workers were owed seven months salary arrears amounting to N2.5 billion, from June to December, 2008 and N17 billion from outstanding five-year pension buy-out.
He said that with government’s long search for a competent investor in NITEL, the workers had been at the “receiving end” of the privatisation exercise.
He said that majority of NITEL workers had ran out of patience waiting for a competent investor, while apathy and frustration enveloped the workforce.
Noting that past strikes had not been effective, Kazzah said: “we have now chosen to adopt dialogue and consultation in addition”.
According to him, the workers have been directed to contact royal fathers, the police and SSS, as well as state governors, on the impending action.
“Having consulted widely, we may decide to draw the attention of the public, through a nationwide demonstration, that will be indefinite,” Kazzah added.
Transcorp, which acquired 51 per cent shares of NITEL in 2006, has been unable to turn around the fortunes of the company.
Recently, the Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, at a meeting with telecommunications operators, said the country would soon seal a new deal for NITEL.
Meanwhile, Kazzah noted that the future of NITEL was still bright amid deteriorating infrastructure and decades of corrupt and inefficient management.
He said all NITEL needed to “bounce back to life” was fund and a free hand to operate.
“The future of NITEL is still bright. If NITEL management is given about N3 billion, with a free hand to operate, you will see a different organisation.
“Our problem today is the deliberate arrangement to liquidate NITEL; otherwise, the government, Bureau of Public Enterprise and Transcorp, can provide the needed funds with a dedicated manpower,” he said.
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