Ajaokuta--Govt. Has No Plan To Rationalize Staff
By Adejoh Salifu, Abuja
The Federal Government on Saturday assured that it had no plan to rationalize staff of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company.
The assurance was contained in a statement signed by Mr Clinton Oni, Head,Press and Public Relations Unit of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, Minsiter of Mines and Steel Development, gave the assurance during her maiden facility inspection tour of the Companies.
She stressed that the intention of the Federal Government was to keep the plant operational.
"Perhaps, it may be necessary to say that the rumours flying around that government intends to rationalize staff of the companies is not entirely true.
"I wish to state that staff rationalization will be the last option since our major aim is to resuscitate the plant for optimum production.
"If however, it becomes necessary to downsize the work force, it will be done in line with extant rules and regulations with the interest of all those to be affected effectively taken care of," She said.
The minister pleaded with the staff of the two companies to exercise some patience with the Federal Government, as efforts were being made to pay the backlog of their salaries and allowances.
Allison-Madueke said that in order to realize the vision of the Ajaokuta project,the present administration had resolved to find a lasting solution to the challenges confronting it and the steel sector in general.
She noted that the Ministry was carefully looking into the proposals on the challenges, prospects and work plans on Ajaokuta Steel Company submitted by the interim management committee.
The minister explained that government revoked the concession agreement on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, to reposition the plants strategically in a way and manner that would meet the desires and aspirations of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Responding, the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Engineer Philip Umunnakwe, thanked the Minister for the visit and assured that her efforts to develop the sector would be realized.
Umunnakwe said that the effective performance of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited would depend on the completion of external infrastructures like access roads to mine sites, Ajaokuta Warri rail and dredging of the river Niger.
Speaking on behalf of the labour unions and staff of the two companies, Comrade Otori Maliki, president of the Iron and Steel Senior Association of Nigeria, requested for the payment of the seven months' salaries arrears and allowances owed the staff.
Maliki also advised government against the mass disengagement of staff of the companies.
He advised government to make the two companies operational and implement the communique of the Iron and Steel Summit held in Lagos last year, for the development of the Steel Sector in Nigeria.| Article source