Workers of the Delta Printing and Publishing Company Limited, publishers of THE POINTER NEWSPAPERS have embarked on a three-day warning strike over alleged failure of the management of the company to effect promotions of staff.
Besides, the workers are aggrieved that all categories of allowances have been stopped since 2014, and that top officials of the ministry of information have allegedly hijacked its circulation votes from the state government.
They alleged that the top officials of the ministry have taken it upon themselves to be circulating the newspaper after accessing the circulation votes, thereby making drivers of the company redundant.
Our correspondent who monitored the situation at the newspaper’s head office in Asaba observed that the work-to-rule was total as leaders of the two unions in the newspaper establishment including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Product Workers (NUPPPPROW) were on ground to ensure compliance.
The unions vowed to enforce a total closure of the newspaper house if the issues were not addressed within the three-day warning strike.
Chairman of The Pointer chapel of NUJ, Sunny Egede, flanked by his NUPPPPROW counterpart, Samson Duvwode, said the workers have unsuccessfully exhausted all available means to ensure that promotions were effected before the warning strike.
Egede said promotion of workers in the commercial department on level 15 to 16 was approved in January 2017 by establishment office, adding, however, that the board and management of the newspaper failed to call for promotion interview.
He alleged that when eventually the interview was scheduled after much pressure, only one person out of five persons eligible for the exercise was invited.
According to him, the unions waded in and their intervention stalled the conduct of the interview.
“In January, this year, we met with the board and highlighted various issues bothering on staff welfare including that of promotion, and issued a 21-day ultimatum for the issues to be addressed which expired. We issued a 14-day ultimatum and management did not yield after its expiration.
“We went ahead to issue a 7-day ultimatum, yet the board and management failed to even lift a finger to address these issues.
“All the ultimatums expired on March 9 when we met with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour Relations, Mike Okeme whose intervention has not be fruitful. So after exploring all these processes, nothing positive happened, we have to take this last option of work to rule.
“We are in pain that for 15 months, our people have been denied of promotion, and we are in an era where arrears are not being paid. Apart from this issue of promotion, all allowances due to workers have longed been stopped for over three years. Our prayer is that the governor intervenes and save the situation,” he said.
Independent investigations revealed that senior officials of the ministry have also hijacked THE POINTER accounts, collecting adverts and public notices on behalf of the firm but Emeraldng.com learnt that the money collected is not paid into the account of the firm.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had, in a press conference last week, told management of the firm to create avenues to manage the publishing firm profitably, noting that the state government had no business in collecting the revenue generated from the firm.
His statement means that the money generated from the firm from both sales and adverts should be channeled into the growth and development of the firm, rather than running to the state government for funding.
However, it seems there are underground deals from the senior officials of the ministry of information who are allegedly hijacking the votes from government house for the company, hence circulating the newspaper by themselves as alleged by the union leaders.
It is therefore necessary for the state government to wade into the matter, set up possibly independent investigation panel, auditors and unravel the secret financial deals leading to the downward trend of the media house.