The management of the African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM Stations has sacked all the workers of its station in Benin, Edo State.
The decision was conveyed in a letter dated June 2, 2016, signed by Victor Okasoga, the Senior Manager in charge of Human Resources.
Daar Communications Plc is the owner of AIT and Raypower FM stations.
The letter advised the sacked staff to surrender all company properties in their possession and added, “Failure to surrender company properties in your possession may delay the processing of your entitlements”.
The dismissal came three weeks after some of the affected staff that include reporters, cameramen, newscasters, presenters and producers, who are owed up to 24 months of arrears of salaries, protested the non-payment of their salaries.
The company’s head of administration, in charge of Benin, Ndah Muhammed, told online news medium, Premium Times that the decision to lay off the workers was taken by the management at the head office of the company.
“Please, get in contact with our head office. The sacking was not from Benin here. It was from head office,” he said.
Reports say the management gave all the sacked workers forms to fill and return, purportedly for payment of the outstanding salaries, under the intimidating presence of armed policemen at the premises.
The latest sack action by AIT/Raypower followed a similar lay-off of 13 senior journalists by the management of Leaders and Company Limited, publishers of ThisDay Newspapers in Abuja last Friday. ThisDay also owes its workers backlog of salaries and allowances.
Earlier, the management of Global Media Mirror Limited, publishers of National Mirror Newspapers, had also relieved some of its workers in what it described as “a reorganization exercise” without paying some of the staff the arrears of 12 months unpaid salaries.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the sack of the staff of Daar Communications Plc.
In a statement, the state chairman, Rowland Osakwe, faulted DAAR Communications management for sacking its workers without fulfilling necessary financial obligations.
Mr. Osakwe said, “It is not a good thing that you enslave labour, and at month end, you don’t give them their stipend. Then, you are sacking them and not giving them their cheques.”
“The act is condemnable. It does not even happen in the animal kingdom these days. We are not going to relent. We will write them a letter and ask the management to pay them their money or we will take a legal step.”
One of the affected workers, who pleaded anonymity, stated that the decision of the company came as a surprise as both staff and management had already met over the payment of their outstanding salaries.