Nigeria’s largest cement producing factory, Dangote Cement PLC, has fired more than 3000 staff without prior notice or due process, SaharaReporters has uncovered.
The company, which is owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, started the process of discarding 80 per cent of it’s staff on June 17 without explanation.
Of 6000 drivers employed by the company, 4000 have been laid off retaining only 2000.
Out of 30 pool drivers for pick up vans, 25 were sacked while five were retained.
All staff in the traffic and accounts departments were also asked to go.
A top source in the company said the company continued to work in overtime mode during COVID-19 restrictions placed on all Nigerian businesses due to Dangote’s association with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that the government had shut down the operation of every business within the country due to the Coronavirus outbreak with exemptions for food processing and manufacturing companies only.
Dangote Cement is not an agricultural company or food processing organisation but continued to operate.
Despite the violations of this guideline put in place by the President, the company recalled staff in the middle of a pandemic to work, the source said.
“At the beginning of the year, they did an appraisal, it was supposed to be for a promotion and then the pandemic struck.
“When the pandemic struck, people were thinking that is when he will sack people but nothing like that happened as a matter of fact, the people that they have compulsory leave because of the pandemic were ordered back after just five days.
“Everyone was recalled back to work despite the lockdown and at that time they were pushing out trucks of cement around 500 to 600 everyday.
“People were working overtime because it is owned by Dangote, his trucks were exempted from COVID-19 restrictions, so they forced people to work overtime like 12 yours everyday morning and night. The country was beginning to reopen little by little and then the next thing was sack,” he said.
A victim of the mass sack told SaharaReporters on Friday that he was at his duty post working like usual when he was called and forced to sign a letter of termination of appointment without prior warning or notice.
He said, “As I speak to you, more than 3,000 people are being sacked. You will be at your duty post and they will call you and give you a letter, nobody knew, no prior notice.
“As a matter of fact, after the appraisal at the start of the year, many of us were given recommendations to be promoted to manager and other positions within the organisation.
“I was at my duty post, I got a call from the admin and when I got there, they gave me a letter and said I should sign the original collected by me, you cannot argue with anybody.
“As a matter of fact, the Head of Materials and Maintenance, Engr Basil, he has only nine people in his unit. He force them to cover the whole of the facility because they have to create evaluations for materials and make reservations for maintainace so when was asked to submit the names of nine people in his department to sack, when he refused explaining to upper management that he was already understaffed and taking out anyone will make the work to suffer. They gave him an ultimatum of 24 hours to submit names from his team for sack and when he refused to do it after it elapsed, he was sacked along with his team.”
He added that staff members at the company were not allowed to belong to trade unions and any attempt to do so would lead to mass sack.
“We are not allowed to have any union, the day anyone starts it is the day we will all go. You cannot try it at all,” he said.
He expressed worry that many staff may not get paid for the overtime hours they put in for June.
“Overtime is usually paid the next month, now we are worried that we might not get paid for the overtime we did in June despite the pandemic. Because of the way the company works, we are even worried that they may not even be paid June salary,” he added.
In a letter of termination signed by Adeniyi Azeez, Head of Human Resources and Administration, sacked staff were told that the process of the payment will be communicated with no specific date indicated.
“Our payroll is currently working out your final financial entitlements and this would be communicated to you during the off boarding process,” The letter reads.