VENTURES AFRICA – Industrial activities remain paralysed at Dangote Flour Mills Plc. in Calabar, Nigeria due to the non-payment of worker’s gratuity, which allegedly stems from the sale of the mill to South African packaged goods company, Tiger Brands.
Employees at the mill commenced an indefinite strike last Friday after expressing disapproval of Tiger brands’ acquisition. According to them, the company independently sold to the South African company without consulting them, a development that has cumulated to non-payment of gratuity.
Workers have since vowed to disrupt any industrial activity that may take place unless their entitlements are paid.
Nigeria Newspaper, This Day, confirmed this saying “the gates to the company were under lock and key. Not even security men were seen within the premises as the vicinity was a ghost of itself.”
Announcing the transfer of ownership of the company, a memo signed by the management was issued to workers that ownership of Dangote Flour Mills have been transferred to Tiger Brands from September 30, 2012, and that the workers gratuities would be paid. But another memo released on November 5, 2012, with the title, “Payment of Gratuity” signed by the General Manager, Human Resources/Administration, Mustapha Ibrahim and the Deputy Managing Director of the company, Ekanem Etim notified workers that the management had decided to shelve the idea of payment of gratuity to the staff.
However, a memo released last Wednesday, December 12,2012 titled “Re-Staff Gratuities” and endorsed by Thabi Segoale on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of Dangote stated that gratuities would be paid only to the staff who wanted to resign from the company.
Part of the statement read thus: “Due to “the current financial position of the company, Executive Management has resolved to outsource the management of the gratuity entitlements to an independent financial institution to manage the funds on behalf of the out but shall be entitled to a full settlement when leaving the services of the company. It is important to note that members will not receive any immediate pay out but shall be entitled to a full settlement when leaving the services of the company. In addition, this will remain a closed scheme for those qualified as at September 30, 2012 only and no new members will be admitted.”
Nigeria’s second largest flour producer, Dangote Flour Mills Plc. was formerly a unit of Dangote Group, which is owned by the richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
In October, Tiger Brands announced the acquisition of 63 percent stake in Dangote Flour, as Aliko Dangote accepted a deal worth $188 million, in the company’s biggest acquisition in Nigeria to date.