By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – AN Edo State based Chinese firm, Yongxing Steel Company has called for investment in Nigeria’s growing economy which it said it is needed for Nigeria to achieve its potentials of becoming a global force among the comity of nations.
This call is on the heels of sharp division among the workers on whether there is a need for them to have an organized workers union in the over ten years old company.
Managing Director of the company, Frank Wang at a stakeholders’ interactive session yesterday said his firm has created 700 direct employment as well as 10,000 indirect jobs.
Represented by the spokesman Ben Den and his address read by the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the company, Olufemi Isaac the steel company boss expressed the firm’s willingness to support the country adding that Nigeria’s current challenges was not enough to discourage investors from maximizing the advantages of investing in Nigeria with its huge population.
He said: “I want to use this opportunity to encourage other foreign investors not to run away from Nigeria. There is no economy that does not have difficulties. Our duty is to support the nation in her efforts to surmount those difficulties.
“Those of us in the construction sector, we need to be more patient with Nigeria. Nigeria is a growing economy and will continue to grow.
“With the huge infrastructural gap in the country, the construction sector will continue to grow and any foreign investor in that sector is not likely to regret it in the end,” he stated.
The Managing Director stated that the firm’s waste to wealth programme has created hundreds of employment opportunities while also ensuring a cleaner environment.
According to him, “As many of you are aware, the basic raw materials for our production come from things which are otherwise a problem in the environment. “We empower people to gather these waste materials that litter the whole environment, we pay for them, we use technology to recycle them and produce some of the best steel products that are used in the construction industry.
“That way, we are not only creating employment, we are cleaning the environment, and we are contributing immensely to the construction sector which is very vital to a growing economy like Nigeria.
“We placed a premium on the welfare of our workers just as we have in our own little ways contributed to the development of our host community through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“As for the staff, we have ensured regular training within and outside the country, provision of shelter, health insurance programme and provision of a safe environment to work.
The Enogie (duke) of Ogua, Chief Ogie Aghaghowen, commended the steel company for creating an economically friendly environment and also for ensuring peace in Ogua community.
However while the briefing was going on with support from some members of both the junior and senior staff who said they were comfortable with the working conditions and environment presented by the company and were therefore opposed to having a union, some of the workers carried placards protesting alleged inhuman working conditions for them by the company.
Speaking on the controversy of having a union in the company, National Secretary of the Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN),an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Kassim Kadiri alleged that the company had reneged on its agreement to allow union in the company.
He said “We got to know about the company in 2013, and we have tried to unionize the place, but what they did was to organize some workers inside the company, who said that they don’t want a union. We wanted to meet the management, but they kept turning us around until 2014 when we declared a Trade Dispute against the management.”
Kadiri alleged that the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which was signed in 2015 for the company to allow for a union was broken when the company immediately transferred the elected chairman to its warehouse in Kano state he said the state government has set up another committee to look into the matter once more.