By Lanre Adesanya
Barely,100 of sacked workers of Dangote Cement Factory besieged the Lagos State House of Assembly, in a peaceful protest to drum home their distress call over allegation of non-payment of allowances and unlawful disengagement by the company.
The protesting laid off workers under the auspices of Forum of Dangote Truck Officers, who displayed several placards to drive home their points, urged the Lagos State House of Assembly to intervene in the matter.
Wielding placards with various inscriptions like: “Dangote, Pay our unpaid performance, bonuses now”, “Dangote Cement PLC is a slave camp”, Dangote should pay our unpaid salaries in multiple of truck, managed”
“NLC, please come to our aid”. “Dangote used armed soldiers and police to harass truck officers,” and “Dangote deceived us into fraudulent scheme and unilaterally cancelled the scheme” .
The protesters unanimously demand for prompt compliance of the Dangote management with the existing terms of agreement entered into with the truck drivers in question.
In a petition addressed to Mr Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the House, protesters inundated him about how they were employed in May 2016 at Ibeshe Plant of the company and the turn of events.
The petition was dated March 2 and co-signed by Mr Ibrahim Abubakar and Mr Francis Nwusulor, the Chairman and the General Secretary of the forum respectively.
It read in part: “In April 2015, the company announced both in print and electronic media a Truck Entrepreneurship Scheme that seeks to empower graduates financially.
“The scheme entailed eventual ownership of a truck each by every successful employee (Truck Officer), who was able to cover 400,000km with the truck.”
The workers added that with the agreement reached with the management of the company, they ought to be paid a monthly renumeration of N60,000 for every Truck Officer including a performance bonus of up to N90,000 monthly target.
According to the petition, each of the 850 victims of the retrenchment is entitled to compensation not less than a month salary in lieu of notice.
“That our salary be multiplied by the number of trucks managed by each truck officer on a monthly basis and to pay the outstanding balance.
“That the management meets the pension requirement in line with the 2004 pension scheme as amended.
“That for causing us huge personal costs of relocation and other economic loss, we demand compensation/damages be paid to each Truck Officer,” the petition read.
Speaking with newsmen, the leader of the protesters, Abubakar added: “We are here today to plead with the leadership of the Lagos Assembly to intervene in our plight as our representatives.
“We were unceremoniously kicked out of the company working for eight months in a scheme we believed was a ruse.
“”This scheme gave the Dangote management to underpay us, we signed up for a job even though with a small pay.
“At the end of the day, we were short paid over the period and asked to go home without even one month lieu of notice.
They are owing us allowances, they are owing us bonuses unpaid over a period of eight month. We want the House to intervene to ensure what us due to us get to us.
Addressing the protesters, the Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, who said that the House shared the pains of the disengaged workers, added that the Assembly would investigate by hearing from the other party.
Obasa, who was represented by Mr Bisi Yusuff, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (Local) said: ” We will not listen to one part and leave the other. We demand from you, a petition to the House.
“Don’t forget to include materials that will help the House to conduct effective investigation. We will call the management of Dangote Cement to hear from them.
“You need to exercise patience because the House is currently on recess to resume on March 28. Once we resume, we will present your case.
“We will keep you inform after thorough investigation and ensure justice. Whosoever breaches labour law, law of contract as well as offer and acceptance law will be brought to book.”
The speaker, who assured protesters that Dangote remained a ” respected business mogul and Father that listens”, stressing that Dangote had helped the economy greatly.
He urged the protesters to leave for their houses peacefully and not allow hoodlums to hijack the civilised protest.