Steel Workers Groan Over Forex Scarcity

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The Steel and Engineering Workers’ Union of Nigeria (SEWUN) has said the sector is gradually dying due to scarcity of forex to import the needed raw materials.

Speaking at the Union ‘s 2016 Annual Industrial Relations Workshop in Benin, Edo State, the President of the Union, Mr. Elijah Adigun said there is no company within the steel sector that has not engaged in one form of staff downsizing or the other, saying that the only reason advanced for the redundancy exercise is the scarcity of forex to import raw materials.

He said between 2014 and now, more than 4,000 workers have lost their jobs in less than two years and many companies closed down due to the economic hardship experienced in the sector.

He said: “You will recall that in my address last year, I reported happenings within our sector in terms of failure of privatization programme by the Federal Government who sold government’s shares in these industries to non-core investors thereby rendering the very essence of privatization totally useless. As we speak, non of these sold government agencies has made any progress.

“Today the situation is made worse by lack of forex to import raw materials, forcing many companies to either embark on redundancy exercise or total factory shut down.’’

“The unemployment situation is seriously bad yet the government is appealing that they share our pains as if that will bring food to the table. What we need now is massive job creation and not empty slogan that appeals to nobody,” Adigun said.

Adigun said no meaningful success will be recorded in a country where the national minimum wage is N18, 000, adding that no worker can survive with such meager salary.

“ Government should therefore diversify the economy; create massive job opportunity for the army unemployed youths with a living wage that will distract people from seeking alternative corrupt sources of income to make ends meet,” Adigun said.

The General Secretary of the Union, Chief Micheal Ogbolu said the union is against the sale assets by the government, say that this will lead to the death of most of these organisations.

“We are all living witnesses, when the previous administration privatized some wholly and partially owned Federal Government companies, whilst assuring Nigerians that the programme shall lead to increased capacity utilization aimed to creating jobs for our teeming workforce. Instead, the programme led to the death of most privatized companies, because the companies were sold to entrepreneurs without expertise as to how to manage the companies sold to them.

“ A good example  of the charade is the sales of Steyr Nigeria Limited, Bauchi; Leyland Nigeria Limited, Ibadan; National Trucks Limited, Kano; Volkswagen Nigeria Limited; among others. Having successfully squandered the proceeds of sales of privatized companies and plunged the nation into recession, the same people are flying the kite to would not to sell part of our remaining national assets, such as the performing Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (LNNG).

“ We wish to call on the conference in session to as a matter of necessity endorse the wise resolution of the labour community to embark on protest should the Federal Government  persist to nurse the dream to further sell part of our performing national assets, as the ordinary Nigeria, including workers will bear the brunt in the aftermath,”Ogbolu said.

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