CORONAVIRUS: DANGOTE PROMOTES WORKER FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT-EDWIN …THUMBS UP NIGERIAN WORKERS’ RESILIENCE

As workers globally marked the May Day, a case has been made for the collaboration between employers and employees to work out strategies to minimize the impact of the business shut down occasioned by the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.

President of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Sector Employers, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, is also a Group Executive Director of Dangote Industries Limited while commending Nigerian workers for their resilience said salaries of his companies’ workers are paid up to date despite the lockdown contrary to insinuations in a section of social media.

CORONAVIRUS: DANGOTE PROMOTES WORKER FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT-EDWIN …THUMBS UP NIGERIAN WORKERS’ RESILIENCE

He urged other employers to protect their workforce on resumption of work in the face of the deadly scourge.

The Dangote Group top shot who was featuring on a Television programme “Business Morning” said the lockdown globally no doubt would have adverse effect on businesses but that the workers should not be made to bear the brunt saying no worker of Dangote Group has been laid off as a result of the current disruption of businesses.

Said he; “The outbreak of corona virus is also going to leave a long lasting impact on some economies that depend on crude as the price of crude oil is decreasing. But the crude oil users are going to benefit a lot because of the low oil prices.

“The short-term impact because of the shutdown or lockdown in various countries have taken people out of their employments and out of their businesses. However, in the next two or three months, I expect some of the business to revive, except for some countries that are facing some specific issues.

As the President of Chemical and Non-Metallic Employers of the Federation, which is the largest sub-sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), I know many of our people are going to be affected because of lack of foreign exchange. But it is a reality because some company may suffer a long term impact of the lockdown, but others will pick up as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

He denied that salaries of Dangote Group workers at any level or subsidiary are being withheld because of the one month stay at home order by the federal government saying all staffers of the Dangote Group and its business units have been paid their salaries despite the lockdown.

Mr. Edwin stated that some companies have sacked some of their workers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic while some others have slashed salaries and that companies would have to take decision that suits them but that care would have to be taken not to take harsh decision that will affect the workers because whatever affect the workers will equally affect the operations of the company.

According to him “It is obvious that many of the companies have gone for salary cut and quit a few companies have even laid off their staff. Therefore, the crisis is seriously affecting many companies and employers.

“But in Dangote Group, we have maintained all our staff, we have not sack any staff and though there have been a one-month complete shutdown, we have paid our salaries in full for all our staff.”

On the reports in some section of the social media that Dangote has stopped the salaries of its staff, the Group Executive Director who is in charge of Dangote Petroleum Refinery described it as rumours and outright fake news saying “although, things may be rough now, we believe that if we are able to maintain and retain our staff in this period of lockdown, we are going to reap the long-term benefits. Our action will boost the morale of the workers because the workers will now know that though, the company was not earning an income, it was still able to pay my salary in full.”

Mr. Edwin said as the President of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Sector employers said he has been advocating a win-win policy by the employers on resumption of works after the lockdown, noting that business disruption as a result of coronavirus is a global one.

He also denied that Dangote Industries Limited was not observing the lockdown pointing out that only the businesses of the Group that are essential have been operating like the Port Services, Sugar and Salt plants both of which belong to the food sector and that in doing so official laid down protocols and WHO standards were being followed to the letter.

Said he “Government has allowed essential workers to operate. We are into sugar and we are into salt, which are essential at this period. We have put in place measures to ensure that all staff on essential duties adhere strictly to health precaution as prescribed by the WHO. We have put in place controls and measures in the interest of the staff to protect their health.

“No doubt t that this is a hard time for the employers and employees. In our essential food businesses, we arrange transportation for staff taking into consideration the social distancing policy, washing of hands free masks and observance of utmost hygiene during operation.

“As a matter of fact given where some of the staff live, the atmosphere at work is even more conducive for them than when at home. Much more so that it appears counterproductive for them to stay at home especially where some share a room.”

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Kogi state government has debunked claims that they spent N7 billion naira to construct an isolation centre for COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, an isolation centre at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, was reportedly damaged by a storm on Tuesday and rumours went round that the isolation was constructed with N7 billion. The state's commissioner for information and communication, Kingsley Fanwo, released a statement on Saturday saying the isolation centre was built for Lassa Fever patients and not for COVID-19 cases. “The attention of the Kogi State Government has been drawn to misinformation doing the round that government allegedly spent 7 billion naira to put in place an Isolation Center at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja that was damaged by storm a few days ago,” the statement read. “The desperate rumor and falsehood peddlers even went further to attribute the statement to the Executive Governor of the State. “The Isolation Centre at the Federal Medical Center was built for Lassa Fever for the institution by the State Government. The Federal Medical Center approached the State Government to help them put in place an Isolation Centre where Lassa Fever patients could be kept before their transfer to Management Centres. “It was never meant for COVID-19 and it is unfortunate that some falsehood merchants are peddling ridiculous figures around as the cost of the centre. Can the rumor peddlers produce the contract papers or even the evidence of the Governor’s statement to that effect?” Fanwo added that the state does not have such resources to expend on building an isolation centre but that it is prepared for “any eventuality”. He said the state’s isolation centres for COVID-19 are in Fareec Clinic, Lokoja; Confluence Diagnostic Centre, Lokoja, and a clinic donated to the state in Ankpa. ” China, the epicenter of the Virus didn’t even spend that much to construct an Isolation Center. Not even Lagos, that is the epicenter of COVID-19 in Nigeria has spent such amount on Isolation Centres,” Fanwo said. “Kogi doesn’t have such resources and even if we do, they shall be expended on infrastructure and economic expansion program that have been the hallmarks of the Governor Yahaya Bello administration. “The State Government is committed to the health perspective of COVID-19 instead of the commercial angle. “We call on those sharing the falsehood to reevaluate their rationality and hearken to the need for all men and women of goodwill to come together at this critical time to defeat the virus.” He said the contractor who handled the project has been called to fix the damaged isolation centre.

Kogi isolation centre: We didn’t spend N7bn on Covid19 isolation centre