14 Tears, as workers of closed textile coy pray over entitlements 15 years on
Former workers of closed textiles, under the auspices of the Coalition of Closed Unpaid Textile Workers Association, Kaduna, in conjunction with Association of Retired Textile Workers Welfare, converged on the premises of the Kaduna Textile Limited to pray over the non-payment of their terminal benefits, gratuity and the re-opening of the mills promised them by the Buhari administration.
The Chief Imam of the Kakuri Central Mosque, Malam Shuaibu Adamu and Evangialist Felix Unuomogwe offered prayers in both Islamic and Christian faiths respectively.
Widows of some dead workers, obviously frustrated by their plight, got burst into tears as the prayers were going on. Members had to plead with Mrs Cecilia John, in particular, to stop crying.
The workers, who have been praying for the payment of their entitlements for over 15 years, said the disagreement between Union Bank and the Arewa Textiles management which was closed down in 2004 with late Paul Achimugu’s family as major stakeholders, has led to the death of over 430 workers and their family members.
While commending the recent agreement entered into by the federal government with a Turkish firm, Sur International Textiles to revive the KTL, the workers urged the government to ensure that the company starts production soon.
The chairman of the association, Comrade Wordam Simdik, appealed to the 19 Northern Governor’s Forum (NGF), the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) and the board of directors of the KTL to, as a matter of urgency, pay workers their terminal benefits owed them since the closure of the company.
“We have lost 750 KTL workers and family members without receiving their terminal benefits but we will continue to pray that this noble agreement to revamp KTL will not fail, and that the legacy of the Sardauna will bounce back.
“The NGF, under the leadership of Kashim Shettima should protect the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello and re-open the textile so that our teeming youths and women can be gainfully involved in order to reduce crime and criminality.”
The Senior Manager Commercial, KTL, Malam Aminu Abduallahi, assured the workers that work will not commence in the mills until all terminal benefits of workers are paid.
“I am already 60, just like many of us here. Even if the mills reopen today, I am not interested in working here except to get employment for our children. All we want is for our entitlement to be paid. We have identified some key properties and we have asked the government to sell the properties and use the proceeds to pay our entitlement but they refused.
“We have asset backing and we have no cause for alarm, but this company will not reopen until our benefits are paid so that a fresh set of workers can be employed to run the mills,” he said.
Our correspondent gathered that Poly Fiber, Supertex and UNTL paid all the entitlements of their workers when they closed down while others including Finetex, Nortex, Arewa Textile and KTL did not pay the gratuity of their workers.
As part of efforts to revive the KTL, its owners, the 19 Northern states governors, were said to have constituted a committee made up of five governors headed by the governor of Kwara State, to work out modalities for bringing back the company to life.
The companies are faced with challenges including power, obsolete equipment, indebted to banks and other sundry issues, which have been impediment to their smooth operations.
Some years ago, the federal government approved the release of N24 billion for the resuscitation of ailing textiles in Kaduna and another N15 billion for the Kaduna Independent Power Project (IPP) as part of efforts to revive the textiles, which used to be the largest employer of labour in Kaduna. Despite this intervention, the textiles are still comatose.
Textiles women praying for the unity of Nigeria and payment of textiles worker terminal benefit and gratuity. PHOTOS