Enwono-Abasi Elisha.

It is 29 years since the defunct Quality Ceramics Company, Ikot Ekwere/Ikot Ebom Itam, Itu LGA, Akwa Ibom State was closed down and surviving staff of the company are yet to be paid their entitlements.

The chairman and secretary of the National Union of Chemical, Foot Wear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Product Employee (NUFRAMPE) at the company said the state government has been non-committal to their plight despite numerous attempts to persuade the government.

Site of the defunct Quality Ceramics now Dimo Investment and Manufacturing Company.

In 2017, the state government ordered a verification of staff of the defunct company, an exercise which presume would be followed by the payment of backlog of entitlements to the surviving staff.

On April 6, 2021, after waiting for three years plus after the verification exercise, the affected workers writing through a legal firm, Prospect Chamber & co. sent an SOS to the state government through the office of the chairman, Akwa Ibom State Investment Corporation (AKICORP).

The SOS reads, “Sir, you may recall series of correspondences between the year 2017 and 2020 sent through our firm to you that culminated in an official invitation extended to our clients by the Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation and subsequent verification exercise conducted between 23rd day to 27th September, 2017. Sadly, ever since that Government invitation and conclusion of the verification exercise aforesaid, there has been no action taken to meet the needs/demands of our clients.”

Chairman of the Union, Mr. Denis Edet Thompson, said their appointments were not terminated when the company was shutdown.

“Our appointments were not terminated. We were basically rendered redundant by the government. The government keeps telling us it will reopen the company and we have waited for 29 years.

“Now, most of us are weak and can’t work even if the government resuscitates Quality Ceramics. What we need now is the payment of our accumulated entitlements and the two months arrears of salaries we were owed before the company was hastily closed down on 23rd Sept, 1992.”

Mr. Thompson said life has been so hard with the workers of the defunct company.

“We have lost some of our members who were part of this struggle. Also, many who were critical support and motivation to the struggle are now blind and some bedridden. They can not join us in our physical struggle though they do send messages across to us.

“We have all grown old and may not have the needed support to push this, but we believe the Court is the last hope for the common man.”

In his contribution, the Secretary of the the Union, Mr. Isaac Edet Usanga, said it is an irony that in an administration where industrialization is a policy, people who contributed their quota to the state owned company have been neglected.

He said despite the long silence from previous administrations, they believe the Udom Emmanuel administration will fast-track the payment of their entitlements.

Some of the staff of the coy that have passed on include, Nse Samuel, Augustine Ekim, Peter Essien, S. U. Ukpong, Nelson George Akpan, among others.

•Change of Ownership

The defunct Quality Ceramics Company has been bought over by Dimo Investment and Manufacturing Company.

The company had told the old staff of the company that they have been indemnified of any outstanding debt by the state government at the point of change of ownership.

“The new executive of the company since taking over has outrightly told us they are not indebted to us in anyway. They said they are not concerned about our welfare because the state government indemnified them and they can not owe us,” the Union Chairman said.

When this reporter visited the old site of Quality Ceramics Ltd now Dimo Investment and Manufacturing Company, there were no noticeable activities ongoing.

Security officers were on guard at the gate which was under lock and key.

A villager told our reporter that work has not begun at the company.

“The place is always locked. But initially there were preparations as if work was going to start but till now, nothing happens here. The gate is always locked with those security people you see.”

The reporter learnt reliably that NUFRAMPE will be heading to Industrial court to get an order compelling the Akwa Ibom state government to pay the entitlements of her members who worked in the defunct Quality Ceramics Company.


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