Feud at Stallion Rice: Police carries out investigation …As workers sacked, journalists banned
By Salisu Baso & Patrick O. Onu
As Kano State Police Command is investigating into the recent feud between the management and staff of Popular Farms and Mills Limited, known as Stallion Rice following a protest by the workers of the company for an illegal detention to work during the period of ‘Stay at Home’ order as part of measures to prevent the citizens against contacting COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the milling firm has technically relieved some of its workers as The Triumph reliably gathered.
The company, which is located at Challawa Industrial Area of the state, had during the lockdown, directed its workers to remain on duty for production chain to continue despite the closure directive by both the federal and the state governments in an effort to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Also, a reliable source informed The Triumph that the issue started when the milling firm requested that any worker with interest or intention of continuity on with his or her job during the review period would be offered a bonus of N5, 000 on daily basis, in addition to a bag of rice.
This attracted many of them to accept the offer.
The source added that at the first week, the N5, 000 was given to the workers, but without the bag of the rice as promised and since then, nothing were given to them even during the fasting and Sallah celebration periods.
Presently, The Triumph reliably gathered that the management of the outfit is planning to relieve and reduce the work force, particularly those who pioneered the protest by down-sizing the workforce from 40 to 20 for morning, afternoon and night duty workers.
When our reporters visited the premises of the company on Wednesday, they learnt that normalcy has however returned in full, as production was ongoing, but yet it was gathered that the promise earlier made to the workers by the management of the outfit to pay them allowances for the work done during the lockdown, has not been fulfilled.
Similarly, though normalcy has been restored, but the management has technically initiated a new method of retrenching some of the workers in every section, which has equally forced some of the staff to act before the company’s sledge hammer descends on them.
Some of them now decided to abandon their works only to wait for their outstanding entitlements which were promised to them more than two weeks ago.
A competent source at the company therefore revealed that up to the time of filing in this report, nothing has been heard regarding the fulfillment of the promises made to the aggrieved workers.
One of the casual staff told our reporters that since their return to work, the management is yet to oblige with the payment of the N5, 000 pledges during the ‘Stay at Home’ production.
He lamented: “Nothing is given to us, until recently when the workers’ protest attracted the attention of the authorities, including Kano Police Command and the state branch of Global Community for Human Rights Network in Nigeria.”
He therefore commended the various organisations and the journalists for their concern and efforts towards bringing succor to them against the inhumane treatment they were subjected to.
According to him, the gesture has made them to achieve a great success as each and every one of them who works during that period were given N1,000 for transport, adding that upon this development, they decided to resume to their normal duties as they given the assurances that their entitlements would be settled.
Also another casual worker, who voluntarily resigned from the work, recalled that on a peaceful protest day while on duty, a combined team of human rights officials and police personnel arrived unscheduled to the company and evacuated about 92 staff on duty to the police facility in Kano city, where they were made to write a statement and were directed to report the following day.
The staff lamented that the workers discovered that the head office of the company in Lagos State had already approved the sum of N5, 000 bonuses, arguing that the management in Kano refused to share it.
He said since then the company has drawn battle line with those who approached the human rights and the police to retrieve their right, saying further that many of those who reported the matter to those agencies were considered as rebels.
When The Triumph called on the company to hear from their side, a senior security man informed our reporters that: “there is standing order or instruction that, journalists have been banned indefinitely from entering into the premises by the Human Resources Manager (HRM) of the company.”
Contacting the Director of Global Community Human Rights Network of Nigeria, Kano State Branch, Comrade Karibi Yahaya Lawan Kabara, he said they have received the complaint and acted accordingly.
He said their intervention has led to the rescue of the company workers, confirming that the matter is still under investigation by the state Police Command and they are waiting for its completion.
He said they are more than prepared to follow the matter to the courts, if necessary so as to serve as deterrent to others.
According to Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, the spokesperson of the state police command, the issue is still under investigation.