The leadership of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN) has vowed to reject concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel without consideration for workers’ welfare.
Its national president, Comrade Kolawole Mustapha, who made this known, reiterated the concern of the union over the move, stressing that, “ISSSAN wished to bring to the attention of the general public over the planned concessioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company both in Kogi State, without taking the issues concerning the workers into consideration.
However Kolawole commended the effort of president Muhammadu Buhari and his team attempt to inject some life into the hitherto moribund Steel industry in the country by offsetting the huge debt owed the Indian Company – Global Infrastructure Nigeria limited, while undertaking to rehabilitate the Itakpe-warri rail line and commercialise its use.
In a related development, the general secretary, Comrade John Odigie expressed the worry of ISSSAN over the move by this outgoing government to embark on the concessioning process that have failed severally before now, without the inclusion of the concerns of employees in the steel industry and their representatives in the union, and other major stakeholders.
According to Odigie, “we had thought that the government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development would engage a competent investor to manage the operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining company Itakpe through private/public partnership arrangement, with the inclusions of all stakeholders in the processes most importantly steel sector employees and their Union representatives whom this action will affect.
“ISSSAN’s major concern, is the welfare of workers’/steel sector employees and how the outcome of the concessioning process will affect their welfare especially in this instance where there is no workers voice in the process. ISSSAN therefore finds it absolutely unacceptable its non-inclusion in the process as this puts the workers in the dark as to the protection of their livelihood in the build up to concluding the process.”
This clandestine move to hurriedly dash out these two companies, he said, is worrisome without first meeting with the relevant stakeholders and carry out due diligence on the companies either by the ministry or the would be investors.
“We therefore call on the federal government to assuage the concerns of ISSSAN and its members by making the concessioning process all – inclusive and invite stakeholders and relevant representative of the union – ISSSAN, to be concerned participants
“ISSSAN wished to categorically state that it will not sit idly by while the interests of its members is being willfully trampled and ignored by those who should know better,” he noted.