By Victor Ahiuma-Young
TENSION has gripped Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC), Kogi State, over rumours that funds meant for the payment of the workers 10 months salaries arrears cannot be traced.
The workers are not only being increasingly restive, but are giving divergent views over the whereaboutÂ of the money said to have been provided for in the supplementary budget because it was not covered by the main budget.
Vanguard gathered that fear of breach of industrial peace now pervade the entire complex as the workers are threatening a show down over non-payment of the backlog of salaries months after the supplementary budget had been approved by the National Assembly.
A text message sent to Vanguard by one the aggrieved workers reads: â€œPlease, note that the Ajaokuta salary, which was recently released to the Ministry is about to be put in fixed account to yield interest after 10 months of hunger and suffering. I hope these people do not want to test our patience.â€
Another worker who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, â€œPlease Vanguard, we know that you are a pro-masses newspaper. Help alert and inform the whole nation that the money meant for the payment of our 10 months salary arrears has been put in a fixed deposit account. We are being told that they are going to conduct a staff audit before payment. We believe the so-called staff audit is to enable them buy time for the money to mature.â€
Acting President of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSAN), Comrade Saliu Otori, confirmed that there is apprehension over non-payment of the salary arrears.