By Chukwuma Umeorah 

Workers of the Chemicals and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (CANMPSSAN) on Wednesday shut down the operation of Shongai Packaging Industries Limited (SPIL), expressing dissatisfaction over the company’s poor handling of staff welfare and the failure to fulfill obligations, particularly regarding the gratuity of unjustly laid-off workers. 

Other concerns raised were the casualization of workers, equipment safety concerns, poor medical provision and compensation for injured staff among others. 

President of CANMPSSAN, Segun David, frowned at the company’s lackadaisical approach at addressing these concerns which he noted have lingered for long. “In October 2022, the services of some workers were terminated for no just reason of which they were not informed prior to the termination. 

“The Union reached out to Shongai’s management, urging them to fulfill their obligation by compensating the terminated workers with their rightful benefits. Despite their initial agreement, the company failed to follow through, instead proposing that the workers return as contract employees. This shift suggests a deliberate attempt by the company to casualize its workforce,” David lamented. 

He added that despite numerous meetings, arbitration sessions, and intervention by the Ministry of Labour, Shongai continually failed to honor its commitments. Even after setting deadlines, such as January 2023, they repeatedly reneged on their promises. 

David further explained that efforts to resolve the matter persisted through mid-2023, with the company consistently failing to meet its obligations. When pressed, they suddenly introduced a new gratuity calculation method without consulting the Union, a move deemed unacceptable. “Now we are in mid-March and the gratuity of these workers is yet to be paid and the welfare of other workers in the company, which is also part of our agitation today, has not been improved.” 

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After a day of heated discussions and negotiations, an agreement was finally reached between the management of Shongai Packaging Industries Limited and CANMPSSAN. The communiqué, signed by representatives of both parties, outlines several key points aimed at addressing the concerns raised by the workers. The terms of agreement include; 

That the two retired senior staff of SPIL will be paid their gratuity in terms of the expired (in january 2005) based on their current salary (retroactive) collective agreement dated 14 January 2003, to be cleared in 24 hours. 

The welfare facilities will be improved in consultation of the association with a fixed timeline, the old handbook shall be reviewed as many of the clauses have become redundant, the annual performance appraisal exercise will be concluded and implemented by April 24, 2024 and arrears will be paid from January 2024 till date. 

Others include, the safety department shall be improved upon and all safety gadgets to be up to date, regularization of casual workers if any in the employment of the company for 7 years, palliatives for workers to be further discussed.  

Also, workers who are due for promotion from junior to senior should be considered and accident victims in the organization should be adequately compensated according to the workmen compensation act.  

The Union added that by the reason of today’s action, no staff should be victimized. 

Speaking on behalf of the Company, Funmilola Oladipupo, HR Department, SPIL, acknowledged that some issues raised by the workers were not clear to all parties involved. However, she reassured that the company was actively working to address these concerns. “Everything is under control and that the company remains committed to responding to the concerns of its staff in the best way possible.”