New Telegraph

Ajaokuta: Steel workers worried over FG’s concessioning plans

The Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN) has expressed concerns over the planned concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company with- out adequately involving the entire stakeholders. ISSSAN, in a statement signed by the National Presi- dent, Comrade Kolawole Mustapha, and the General Secretary, Comrade John Odigie, said the Federal Government, in its arrangement, had failed to consider the effect this change would have on the hu- man/personnel element.

The group said: “While ISSSAN commends the effort of the current Buhari’s administration in its attempt to eject 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 at the same time undertaking to rehabilitate the Itakpe-Warri rail line and commercialise its use, ISSSAN is curious to understand this new move by this outgoing government, to embark on the concessioning process that has 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.

“We had thought that the government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development would engage a competent investor to man- age 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.”

The goup noted that its ma- jor concern was 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, as the saying goes ‘he who wears the shoe, knows where it pinches.’ “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 conclud- ing the process.

“This clandestine move to hurriedly dash out these two companies is worrisome with- out 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 – in- clusive and invite stakeholders and relevant representative of the union – ISSSAN, to be concerned participants.

“Short of this the process would be flawed and viewed as a deliberate design to excise ‘stakeholders’ issues and ISSSAN’ from the process and ignore steel sector employees’ interest. “On this note ISSSAN wish 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.

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