The Management of Independent Newspapers Limited has again dashed the hope of its staff as the Managing Director of the paper; Ted Iwere has denied making any promise to pay the two years backlog salary arrears owing the workers.
A source close to the company told Saharareporters that contrary to the promise made by the Managing Director to pay the two years backlog in two tranches in March and June respectively at a meeting with the staff early this year when the company was reopened for the business after it was picketed for five months by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) following its inability to pay two years salaries owing its workers.
We gathered that the staff of the company who have been excited to receive the first instalment of their salary at the end March got the shock of their life when information filtered that the Managing Director has reneged and backtrack on his initial promise and agreement he reached with the staffs on the modality to use.
The development which made the workers become disenchanted and demoralised as many of them said to have borrowed money to offset house rents, bills, pay children school fees in anticipation of getting their backlog as promised.
One of the staff who pleaded anonymity said that "we are all expecting the first instalment of the arrears at the end of March this year but as I am talking to you now I have not got a dime. The MD told us categorically in January at a meeting in Lagos that he would pay us all the two years salaries arrears in two tranches. " The first payment will be made at the end of March and the second batch will be paid by the end of June. But to my surprise, we were told that the management has denied making such statement".
Checks also revealed that there have been disquiet in the top hierarchy of the company as some of the management staff were of the opinion that the action would have a negative impact on worker's morale and subsequently affect productivity considering the fact that the paper was just coming out of the conundrum.
With this ugly development in the company, workers have perfected plans to resist any attempt by the management to short change them of their right and what belong to them.
It would be recalled that Ted Iwere's led management laid off 50% of the workforce of the paper last year both at headquarters and out stations when the agitation for the payment of the backlog of arrears became prominent which later led to the intervention by the Nigeria Union of Journalists who asked its members to down tools until their demands are met. Most of the affected staffs who were relieved of their job were those that took part in the union activities during the crisis. The action which many described as victimisation, reprehensible and wrongful termination of appointment without any recourse to the laydown procedure and process as stipulated by the labour law.
Workers have concluded the plan to seek redress at National Industrial Court.
Ted has severally been accused of being autocratic, high-handed ness and incompetence which led to his removal by the publisher, James Ibori and replaced by James Akpadem. But Ted tossed himself to reckoning when he took the advantage of the newsroom politics that engulfed the Akpadem's led management team which led to the sack of the entire team.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists had handed down warnings to all media owners last year to pay the outstanding staff salaries or face its wrath.