By Lucy Ogalue
Workers of Sheraton Hotel Abuja, on Tuesday embarked on a peaceful protest within the hotel premises over nonpayment of severance package.
The aggrieved workers, under the auspices of the National Union of Hotels, Personal Services Workers (NUHPSA), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that it would be unfair for the management to ask them to quit their jobs without paying them off.
Mr Leke Success, the General-Secretary of the Union said, the protest is to ensure Marriott International pay the money that we jointly agreed to be paid as severance package in view of the new owner shutting down this place today.
We just heard about a week ago that the new owner, NIPCO, who just acquired this place, decided that they will short it down and commence renovations.
We tried to persuade them from shutting down based on the short notice, but that could not fly.
So we sat down as a responsible union to negotiate severance pay for our members and the agreement stipulated that before the close of business on Oct.17, the money will be paid.
But up until now, the management is still dilly-dallying and very soon they will lower the banner and shut this place.
So we cannot risk that happening. It is because the money was not paid that we are here to protest peacefully that this money should be paid or we will not leave this place.
Agreement is agreement, if the money is not paid, we will not leave. Each day that passes we will change our demands, after today we will demand for damages because they have breached the agreement.
Our mission is to be paid our money, we have end of year bonus and hampers which members enjoy and the general manager just said they will not pay.
The action is for both Marriott and the new owner who are here to wind up this place, to come out and tell us why our members should not be paid.
The unionists also demanded that some workers termed casual staff who were excluded by the management from the payment be treated equally as other staff.
Whoever works here deserves to be paid because they are workers. No condition of employment will make them (casual workers) not to get their pay, Success said.
Meanwhile, some of the casual workers while expressing their grievances told NAN that the news came as a shock and if they dont get paid, their families would suffer.
Mrs Blessing Moses, who said she is a mother of four children said, they did not have prior notice of the new development until two days ago.
According to her, they call us casual, yet they dont want to give us our money. They chased us out since yesterday but we are still working, you can see I am still in my apron.
By casuals, does that mean we are not human beings? we have families, we have children to take care of. So they should pay us, so that as we are going, we will go with joy and look for work in another place.
We cannot go and sit for six months without doing anything, what are we going to use in taking care of our children.
Similarly, Mr Vincent Ajiji, a university graduate who also works as a casual staff at the kitchen department, reiterated the importance for casual staff to equally be paid as regular staff.
Graduates in this country that are casual staff are being used as tools, we are being maltreated here, and that is why we are asking that they pay us our money.
When it comes to work we are all staff but when it comes to payment, we are called casual staff.
I want my money, I want my entitlements, they should take good care of me before I go home. I have been here since 2021 and still referred to as casual, it is paining me, Ajiji said.
Meanwhile, a Senior Staff of Sheraton who spoke under condition of anonymity said the Corporate Affairs Unit of the hotel would soon release the respond of the management in due course.
NAN recalls that Capital Hotel Plc bought majority shares in Sheraton from the Federal Government over 30 years ago and engaged the services of Marriot International in the management of Sheraton.
Its new owners, NIPCO, which bought 51 per cent majority shares in Sheraton, had planned to shut down the hotel in order to carry out a holistic renovation and repositioning of the hotel.
As at the time of filing this report, the leaders of the union and the management of Marriot International were holding a closed door meeting. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Ese E. Eniola Williams
Source: NAN News