By Vincent Kalu
The Inner Galaxy Steel Company Limited has refuted allegations of running a “modern day slave camp” in its facility at Umuahala, Obuzor Asa, Ukwa West LGA, Abia State.
The company has gone ahead to produce a series of documentary evidence by way of photographs and archive materials dating back to its first year of operations in 2015, showing its culture of maintaining a healthy atmosphere for staff who are mostly Nigerian citizens.
The company, which is a leading manufacturer of steel, iron and allied products, last week, had come under heavy attacks on social media for what a particular social media account holder termed unfair labour practices and unhealthy environment. The individual who operated under a pseudo name also displayed a photograph of someone he claimed was a staff of the company whose back was lacerated from strokes of the cain.
But Inner Galaxy pointed out that there is no such a person in the company and that the individual who claimed he was an investigative journalist was actually a paid agent. The company then challenged the individual to say what media house he works for.
A statement signed by the company’s chief counsel, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe, described, the allegations as “a deliberate fabrication, mischaracterisation and misinformation concocted by the operator of the said Twitter handle at the instance of those who engaged him for the hatchet job.”
According to him,“it is instructive that the faceless operator behind the Twitter handle, @Truthfully83 stated clearly in his reference post that it is “In the last 3 months and counting” that the alleged hostage imprisonment of workers arose. There is no allegation that any such situation has existed in the previous years of the existence and operations of the company.
“The critical question which any unbiased, open minded, truth-seeking person should ask therefore is: what happened in this “Last three months and counting” from August 12, 2020, that led to the alleged “hostage imprisonment of workers?”
The true facts as explained by the company are that “with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, individuals and companies were confronted with a situation of unprecedented crises the likes of which had not been witnessed by most people alive today and which no one predicted or planned for.
“Against this background, the company management, called a meeting of all the workers and made it clear that by virtue of the foregoing factors that those who wished to continue working during the indeterminate period of the pandemic, will have to be housed within the company premises as they may not be able to get to work from their homes once the full lock down, curfews and other measures came into full implementation.
“The company made an offer: Those who agree to stay within the company premises until the pandemic is over and restrictions in movement relaxed will be housed in temporarily, hastily erected accommodation as such did not exist prior to this time. Those who could not stay, either because they have families they could not abandon in the middle of a pandemic, particularly when no one could predict how long it would last or for other reasons will be furloughed to be reabsorbed once the crisis was over or abates and things return to normal.”
According to him, those who stayed were fed twice daily, paid their full salaries, plus bonuses; while those who chose to go and stay with their families were still being paid monthly allowances of N15,000 pending when they would choose to come back to work.