Ex-ALSCON employees give BPE, PTAD two weeks ultimatum over unpaid benefits
No fewer than 500 former employees of the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, yesterday, protest against nonpayment of their severance benefits.
They blamed the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) for their predicament and issued a 14-day ultimatum to pay their entitlements, failing which, they would take legal action.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions as: BPE And PTAD Can’t Deprive Us Of Our Entitlements; We Say No To Injustice; Corruption Hits BPE And PTAD and Number Of ALSCON Workers Was 1,805, Not 1,243 As Your Nominal Roll Says, among others.
They said ALSCON had 1,805 workers, but were shocked that PTAD omitted 562 of them from its nominal roll. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Hope Wilfred said the BPE carried out a verification exercise for disengaged workers in 2012, insisting that not all of them were captured.
He added that to make the exercise more accommodating, the Federal Government again directed PTAD to conduct another staff verification exercise in 2019, as precondition for the payment of their severance benefits.
“We were given a printout and verified, as genuine workers of ALSCON, but when the money was paid, 562 of us were omitted from the payroll. This is injustice. We need our money and they must pay us.
“I think the omission is a deliberate act, because PTAD captured the total number of workers, but for them to now tell us that our names were not in the nominal roll presented to them by BPE, sounds suspicious.
One of the former workers, Anthony Ekpe, said PTAD intentionally muddled up names of staff to justify their exclusion from the final payroll.
Also, another former staff of ALSCON, Rosemary Ayaraekpe, lamented that five of her colleagues had died, because they could not afford to pay their medical bills.
According to her, some of her colleagues worked under very hazardous conditions, especially those that worked in the pot room where some young men were rendered impotent due to the intense heat.
Ayaraekpe lamented that she could not pay her children’s school fees and meet other basic needs following BPE and PTAD’s refusal to pay her entitlements.
When contacted, ALSCON’s representative of Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN), Emem Valentine, said the union was working with relevant government agencies to resolve the issues and assured that the affected former workers would be paid their benefits.
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