From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Staff of Sheraton Hotel Abuja have staged a protest over severance payments.
The staff who turned out in their numbers, called on Marriot International, managers of the hotel to ensure that their severance package was paid.
Recall that Capital Hotel Plc bought majority shares in Sheraton from the Federal Government over 30 years ago and engaged the services of Marriot International in the management of Sheraton.
Its new owners, NIPCO, which bought 51 per cent majority shares in Sheraton, had planned to shut down the hotel in order to carry out a holistic renovation and reposition the hotel.
Speaking during the protest, the General Secretary of the National Union of Hotels and Personal Service Workers, Comrade Leke Success, said the protest was about making Marriot pay the severance package that was jointly agreed upon in view of the new owners shutting down the hotel.
“We just heard about a week ago that the new owner, NIPCO, who just acquired this place, decided that it is going to shut it down and commence renovation.
“We tried to persuade the shutting down based on the short notice, but that could not fly. So, we sat down as a responsible union to negotiate severance pay for our members.
“The agreement stipulated that before the close of business on the 17th of this month, which was yesterday (Monday), the money would be paid. But up till now, the management is still dilly-dallying and very soon, they will lower the banner and shut this place.
“So, we cannot just risk this type of trick to be comfortable that they will pay because initially, on the negotiation table, they had tried to say that they will not pay yesterday. But we insisted that if you are shutting down today, everybody should go with their money,” Leke said.
The union leader further said they were not going to disperse from the protest ground until their demand was met, adding that agreement is agreement.
He stated that they had to shift the payment date from Monday to Tuesday, saying that for refusing to pay them on Monday, they would demand damages.
“Because it is a breach of the agreement. So, that is our mission here. Our mission is getting our money,” Leke added.
Leke also disclosed that some workers who were casual staff were excluded from the payment, saying that whoever worked in the hotel, deserved to be paid.
“No conditions of employment will make them not get that payment,” Leke stated.
Also speaking, a staff of Sheraton Hotel, Vincent Ajiji, called on the management of Sheraton to pay them their entitlements, saying that they were hungry.
“We are being mistreated here. That is why we are asking that we should be paid so that we can go home,” Ajiji said.
Ajiji further said casual staff were being neglected and treated like slaves, with Sheraton paying them peanuts.
“What is the meaning of casual? It is only in this country that they are still using casual. When it comes to work, we are all staff, but when it comes to pay, we are casual.
“They don’t want to pay us and I am a graduate, I work in the kitchen department. A casual for one year, two years, three years, it is a shame,” Ajiji stated.
Efforts to get the management of Marriot International regarding the development were not successful.
Daily Sun however gathered from a senior staff of Marriot that its corporate affairs section would issue a statement in response to the demand by the staff.
At the time of this report, the leaders of the union and the Management of Marriot International were holding a closed-door meeting.