No fewer than 13 employees of THISDAY Newspapers have been dismissed by its management, following a strike notice issued by the workers demanding payment of their backlogged salaries.
On Tuesday, Premium Times reported that the sacked workers had appealed to THISDAY Newspapers management to clear backlog of salaries, a situation they said had left them unable to meet their obligations both to their families and other responsibilities.
The workers gave its management till Friday, June 10, 2016, to pay their arrears, or they would embark on a one-week warning strike from Sunday June 12, 2016 until June 19, 2016.
The strike notice was collectively signed by Tobi Soniyi, Olawale Ajimotokan, Patrick Ugeh, Senator Iroegbu, James Emejo, Omololu Ogunmade, Paul Obi, Ndubusi Francis, Dele Ogbodo, Damilola Oyedele, Chineme Okafor, Godwin Omoigui and Onyebuchi Ezigbo.
Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Leaders & Company Limited, which runs THISDAY Newspaper titles and Arise TV Network, in response to the staff demands, wrote in an internal memo that the 13 journalists attached to its bureau in Abuja should be paid due salaries, but should be compelled to pay all outstanding debts they owed the company before their contracts are terminated.
Part of Mr. Obaigbena’s internal memo addressed to the company’s acting head of human resources, Emmanuel Efeni reads:
“Please work out what each of them is owed including pensions, net off all debt to the company and terminate all the appointments with immediate effect. This company has policies and will not be run in the village square.”
According to Mr. Obaigbena, the reporters “canvassed” for adverts for the newspaper which were not paid for, saying the non-payment had contributed to the more than N1 billion the paper is being owed in revenues, which should not have been the case for ethical and governance reasons.
Meanwhile, official sources from the newspaper publication claim that most of the journalists fired were owing the newspaper more than the salaries and allowances they complained of being owed. Sources say the matter was more about advertising revenues the reporters owed to the company than it was about their salaries.
The sacked workers reportedly brought adverts to the company from individuals and companies who ended up being unable to pay. Up to N400 million is being owed the company now as a direct result of this.
Their actions are against THISDAY’s long-standing policy which prohibits reporters and other members of the editorial staff from facilitating adverts for the company. The reporters flouted the rule because they had hitherto been able to circumvent any formal reprimand.
Below are the full details of the letter the staff wrote to the management earlier in the week:
“Having borne the brunt of Management’s non-payment of our salaries —- running into several months, we, the undersigned Editorial Staff of THISDAY Abuja, have come to the painful decision to declare a warning strike.
“Should the management fails to pay us by Friday, June 10, 2016, we will have no option than to embark on a one-week warning strike from Sunday June 12, 2016 until June 19, 2016.
“Please, note that an indefinite strike will ensue at the expiration of the warning strike.
“By this letter, we are putting the management on notice that effective Sunday June 12, 2016, we will cease to send stories to all THISDAY titles until our salary arrears are defrayed. In this case, we will supply stories to all the titles from now until Saturday June 11, 2016.
“For several years, we have sacrificed everything- emotionally, physically and materially to ensure the continued survival of THISDAY but regrettably, the organisation has demonstrated an abysmal disregard for these gestures.
“We need not state the obvious that virtually all of us here can no longer meet our obligations both to our families and other responsibilities.
“Thanking you for your urgent response.
1. Tobi Soniyi
2. Olawale Ajimotokan
3. Patrick Ugeh
4. Senator Iroegbu
5. James Emejo
6. Omololu Ogunmade
7. Paul Obi
8. Ndubusi Francis
9. Dele Ogbodo
10. Damilola Oyedele
11. Chineme Okafor
12. Godwin Omoigui
13. Onyebuchi Ezigbo