By Egufe Yafugborhi
Yusuf Mohammed has been working with the Delta Steel Company, DSC, for the past 24 years, and until the management crisis which culminated into a failed privatization of the company, and eventual take over by the Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, D.SC, was an envy of other workers besides those working in oil companies.
Today, the company is not only a shadow of its former self but, many of the workers have died waiting of their earned benefits.
Hear the tales from some of the staff as told by Mohammed and others.
According to Mohammed: “You know what it entails, in a town like Warri, for you to live working without benefit. We have lost a lot of our colleagues, a significant number of them. A lot fagged out working out their strength for the company without benefit. Many have died of terminal sicknesses.”
Egbevwie Godfrey, another long serving staff, corroborated that a lot of them have died. “The state of penury we are leaving in that place is horrifying. A colleague was taken to the hospital and needed just N15,000 to deal with his condition. He died because he had no money. It has been a tale of untold hardship.” Penultimate month, AMCON paid 25% of accumulated arrears to some 1682 staff in lieu of salaries and other allowances owed by Global Steel, one of the private firms that made unproductive acquisition of DCS since government privatised it under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking on the payment, Egbevwie said: “We are elated that this payment will lead to the opening of the company by the new operators and consequently engagement of several workers. What we are not happy about is that only 25% of what we are owed is being paid. Besides, several casual staff who are also being owed were not captured and not being paid. I appeal to AMCON to look into their cases and release something to these our colleagues. We are all affected.”
A son of a deceased DSC staff who simply identified himself as Felix, 32, said, the impact of the staff predicament in their family created a myriad of problems the results of which set back the family drastically.
Felix said: “Steel Town (DSC Housing Estate) was an exclusive leaving quarters for both senior and junior staff when the community was established 1979. We had the best of leisure, schools, and parental care growing up. All that changed as soon as management crisis set in. First, all the leisure, pampering from our parents ceased following months of unpaid salaries. By the time it degenerated to privatisation which made things worse against the expected good. Before long, most of us were driven from schools and started getting involved in all sorts of unthinkable engagements, including stealing to survive as most parents could no longer offer three square meals to their families.
“Every incentives we enjoyed, light, staff school, medical center, staff clubs, which exclusive served the staff and their families became privatised to the extent that staff couldn’t afford to pay for the services and outsiders were now more in position to enjoy the state of the art facilities in these places. The beautiful landscape that was spread across the township turned farmlands for most families and gradually some of us graduated into criminality which still persist in Steel Town till today. My dad died, obviously of hardship even after relocating to his home town and you won’t believe I am just in my final year in the university through my personal struggle to raise the needed funds when I should have graduated long ago if DCS was still DCS.”