BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
ORGANISED labour in the nation’s hospitality industry, has accused the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, of plot to extort workers in the sector under the guise of biometric registration, threatening to shut down the industry should the NTDC goes ahead with the plan.
Under the aegis of the National Union of Hotel and Personal Service Workers, NUHPSW, the union described the planned deduction OF N1,000 from workers’ salaries as totally unacceptable and a clear violation of the extant labour laws.
The biometric registration according to the NTDC is designed to ensure safety and security of users of hospitality outfits, ensure that only genuine and credible people work in the tourism and hospitality industry, check the movement of staff to avoid fraudulent characters within the industry and maintain a viable data base to encourage direct foreign investment in the industry.
The union while commending the efforts of the NTDC to reposition the industry as a veritable tool for economic development said it will not allow members to be surcharged through any programme no matter how laudable its objectives.
In a statement by the union’s President and General Secretary, Mr. Leke Success and Augustine Mbavough, respectively, the union advised NTDC to approach the Federal Government to provide the needed funds to execute the project rather than extort money from workers who were not responsible for the crime in the industry.
According to the statement “Although we are not against this project but as a responsible workers organisation duly registered under appropriate Nigeria labour laws and with jurisdictions over workers in the tourism and hospitality industry will not allow our members to be surcharged through any programme no matter how laudable its objectives when it has not been sufficiently carried along and certain fundamental issues have not been properly addressed.
“The planned or the proposed payment of N1,000 per hotel workers towards funding this project is totally unacceptable to the union. No employer in the industry should deduct any amount from our members’ wages towards this project. Charging Hotel workers to fund this project will amount to extortion which we cannot explain to our members.”
“The database NTDC should be concerned about is that of guests and not of staff. Workers employed in the industry provided all the needed information to their respective employers before they were employed however; no such data of guests are available to the various hotels. There should be a standard form of identification for all guests like international passport, national identity card or national driver license that cannot be easily forged.
“Similarly, all cruise line operators, luggage carriers, airport taxi operators (who first come in contact with foreign or local guests) should have their data registered for proper monitoring of their activities. Majority of workers at our various Airports are casual workers that will be difficult to trace in case of any infraction of the law. The employment of these set of people should be regularised and unionised for proper control and accountability”.
The union noted that “members have always support their management to put in place appropriate machinery to monitor activities of guests but which are absent in non-unionized hotels because the motivation to do this has not been provided” adding that ”for the project to make the desired impact in checking crimes, the NTDC should make it compulsory for all tourism and hospitality facilities across the country to be unionised”.
It called on the agency to embark on a massive campaign to sensitize and enlighten the people on the objectives of the project as done before the commencement of the SIM Card registration by service providers in the telecommunication industry.