…threatens industrial action
Workers of the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino have raised alarm over the alleged unfair labour practices, racism and inhuman treatment they are being subjected to, calling on the Federal Government and other relevant government agencies and concerned ministries to intervene.
The workers under the umbrella of the National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers (NUHPSW) and Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association (HAPSSSA), accused the management of the hotel, a South African Company, Sun International of running “a slave camp”, in collaboration with a recruiting firm, Zschlater Nigeria Limited, thereby threatening to declare a full blown industrial action against the hotel if the management fails to retrace its steps.
Speaking on behalf of the two unions, the National President of HAPSSSA, Adeyemi Ademola and Principal Assistant General Secretary of NUHPSW, Usman Mohammed, alleged that the two companies’ operation in Nigeria is illegal, as Zschlater Nigeria Limited who acted and are still acting as a recruiter do so without recruiters license and approval of the Federal Ministry of Labour, while Sun International, equally is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commisssion.
To back up his claim, Ademola said that a letter titled “Re-Fact Finding on Zschlater Nigeria Limited’ from the Ministry of Labour and Productivity dated August 3, 2015 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. E. Okogwu, reads that “…Zschlater Nigeria Limited is not in our records of Registered Private Employment Agencies.”
He catalogued series of alleged unfair labour practices and victimization of workers that dated back to 2007 when the Sun International Limited of South Africa, took over the management of the hotel following its privatization.
Attempt to speak with the management of the hotel was unsuccessful as the Human Resources Manager, Mr. Bogoshi Matlala (A South African), said he could not speak on phone. and would not be available during official hours.
However, Mr. Ademola claimed among others, besides alleged management refusal to have a collective bargaining agreement, CBA, with the unions towards a condition of service for the workers, “The workers have endured series of humiliation, provocation, intimidation, molestation and completely reduced to nothing; such that:
A South African chef could break a plate on the head of a Nigerian cook in the kitchen.”
Other maltreatment the workers suffered, he said, include “re-sounding slaps on the workers faces by the South Africans, termination of appointments at will and lack of healthcare facilities for the personnel”, a situation the union leaders alleged had led to the death of some workers, just as others were incapacitated without compensation.
The HAPSSSA President added that the workers daily work under, “tensed atmosphere of fear that has made some of our colleagues develop hypertension.”
The unions also raised the issue of non-remittance of deducted taxes, which they said has debarred the workers from having tax certificates, illegal deduction of staff wages amounting to about N50 million and total disregard for the laws of the land.
Ademola said: “We reject the antics of the Sun International under David Klieg and Bogosi Matlala (South Africans) to enslave Nigeria workers in the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino. We condemn in totality any act of racism and hereby demand the immediate resignation of the General Manager, Klieg, and the Human Resources Manager, Matlala, respectively and their deportation.”
Ademola harped, “It is totally unacceptable and against our laws for a South African to act as human resource manager in Nigeria.
He noted that when the workers could no longer endure the situation, they sought for the assistance of the unions through a four-day struggle that forced all the union representatives to sleep on the open field of the hotel in January 2015 before the company could recognize the union, but not without the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and the Directorate of State Services (DSS).
He lamented that ever since the recognition of the union in 2015, the management has terminated the appointment of a number of employees for participating in the struggle. “Some were even locked out through court injunction while the rest were denied the 2015 end- of-year bonus.”
The HAPSSSA president alleged that several positive measures taken to redress the situation have proved abortive, as the management of the hotel remained at arm’s length from the union representatives.
He said, “Now the workers are apprehensive as to the status of their employment having worked for between seven and eight years respectively and could be terminated suddenly without any severance benefits. They do not even know their employer.”
The Labour leader lamented that all relevant agencies of government, such as the Labour Ministry, Police, Department of State Services, Lagos Internal Revenue Service, National Assembly, Lagos State House of Assembly, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had been intimated with letters and petitions on their grievances with the management of the hotel, with only the Senate acknowledging their letter.
He urged federal and state governments and their agencies to call the management to order, warning that labour had exhausted its patience limit and now ready to take its destiny in its hands
“Nigeria workers should be free to join the unions of their choice without victimization as entrenched in the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria – Freedom of Association”, he stressed.