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Hotel workers blame dwindling patronage on worsening insecurity

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The worsening insecurity in Nigeria, is threatening patronage of hotels and other recreational facilities, National President of the National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers (NUHPSW), Helen Jaja, has said. She explained that the development is also contributing to experts exiting the country, and also flayed the unpalatable practice by some employers in the industry, who derive joy in sacking workers on flimsy excuses.

She spoke during opening of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Owerri, themed, “Unlocking the Potential and Opportunities in the Nigeria Hospitality and Tourism Sector: Answer to Over Dependence on Oil and Gas as Major Source of Foreign Earning.”

Jaja said: “Our industry has been badly affected by this carnage of insecurity. The implication of this unwholesome development on the hospitality, tourism, catering and surveillance industry, is that tourists are scared away from visiting the country, while hotels in the affected zones have become breeding places for rats and reptiles. Workers in these establishments have been sent parking without payment of their terminal benefits and leaving gratuity, thereby increasing the army of unemployed hands.

“This insecurity has continued to drive our qualified hands and experts to seek greener pastures in foreign countries.”
She also regretted that the funds that should have been used to fix infrastructural deficits were deployed to buying arms and ammunition for the military.

She also decried the epileptic power supply in the country, saying the situation is threatening investment in the hospitality sub-sector.
On the state of the Imo Concorde Hotel, she regretted that out of about 500 workers it had, only 100 are presently there, urging the State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, to fix it to befit the legacy left behind by the late governor of the state, Chief Sam Mbakwe. 

Declaring the meeting open, Ihedioha, represented by the Secretary to State Government, Uche Onyeagocha, said workers were right in agitating for upward review of minimum wage to N30,000 minimum from N18,000.He urged hotel workers to be creative, depend less on imported products, and focus on local production.

On his part, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, represented by the Vice President, Women Commission, Mercy Okezi, said the struggle for better conditions and welfare for workers would remain unshaken.He said there is no going back on the milestone the union had recorded on the N30,000 minimum wage.

The General Secretary, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi, noted that the theme of the meeting was apt.He flayed the governors for using the Nigeria’s Governors Forum, to kick against the N30,000 minimum wage, saying they would pay according to the resource base of each state.

Imo State Commissioner for Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture, Chijioke Nzekwe, pointed out the potential of the tourism, hospitality and creative industry, noting that opportunities abound, which could make the country less-dependent on crude oil and gas.He announced that Mr Collins Anyanwu, had been reappointed as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry as requested by labour, and urged labour to accept the olive branch extended to them.


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