December 28, 2005/ThisDay
Former employees of the defunct Nigeria Tobacco Company (NTC), have petitioned Oyo State Governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, over alledged refusal of the British American Tobaco (BAT), to pay their severance allowances after being laid-off and its subsequent acquistition by BAT in 1995.
The ex-workers, in an SOS letter dated November 14, addressed to Ladoja, they said the agonising and traumatic experiences they have passed through \"with the strains of the economic recession, have resulted in some untimely deaths of their members, which could have been averted, if BAT had paid their severance allowances as at when due.
Last week, a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, fixed January 30, 2006 for hearing of the suit filed by the 307 ex- workers claiming a sum of N251,572,268.18 being their outstanding entitlements since their sack in 1994.
Upon the absence of Mr Lanre Ayanwale (Counsel to BAT) in court last week without any notice, counsel to ex-NTC staff Mr M.O.Achukwe urged justice (Mrs) B.I. Molokwu, of the Federal High Court 2, Ibadan, to \"issue a further hearing notice to be served on them for the matter to be heard judiciously and judicially.\"
BAT inherited the defunct NTC in 1995 .
The workers under the group, headed by Mr F.O. Osifeso (Chairman) and Richard Ajayi (Secretary), had complained to the court that of the 500 per cent severance allowance due them from the Nigerian Tobacco Company, Provident Fund Scheme-an in-house pension scheme deducted from their salaries, only 136 per cent was paid to them, leaving a balance of 364 per cent amounting to N36,672,268.18.
For having been left in the lurch for so long despite that BAT had upon inheriting the NTC and taking over its assets and liabilities, had dispensed with their jobs, the workers have also sought damages worth N153,500,000 from the foreign company.
The employees in their averments had complained that the Board of Directors of BAT had agreed with the Union to pay any employee affected by the severance within a period of two years. two years full payment. But the agreement was breached.