By Bashir Adefaka
Following the complaint by National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), which it made on Tuesday in Lagos, a director of one the construction companies had defended the lay off of some of their workers because, according to him, they could not continue to pay salaries and wages in the wake of the non-payment for jobs done and the ones still ongoing.
The director, who spoke under condition of anonymity in a telephone interview with Vanguard, yesterday, said his own company alone had been owed in billions for over three years and that the company had retrenched not only indigenous but also expatriates as a result of the harsh financial condition.
President-General of the NUCECFWW, Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, had reportedly addressed a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, where he lamented that over 60,000 workers in the construction sector had lost their jobs in the past four months, signifying a massive break in infrastructure development, which he described as unfair to the workers.
But the director said: “I am not speaking only for the company but for the others because there is no way any of the construction companies could continue to pay salaries and wages under a situation where payments have never been made for the jobs done. All construction works in the country have therefore stopped for this singular reason.
“One particular company among us is owed up to N30 billion which cuts across the Federal Government and three states: one in the South South, one in the South East and the other in the South West and it has been like that for over three years now. The Federal Government under Mr. Goodluck Jonathan had always promised to pay us but they never fulfilled their promise. Even the immediate past minister of works had assured us of payment of the money alongside other construction companies being owed but till the time the Federal Executive Council (FEC) rounded off, he never made good his promise.
“This is the dilemma we are into. We can only appeal to the newly constituted Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to kindly look at the implications of having more people out of job as a result of this non-payment and act accordingly. We also call on the state governments owing construction companies to pay up because people being out of job can complicate the security situation in the country,” he said.