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Workers allege hardship, maltreatment at Federal Palace Hotel

Federal-Palace Hotel
Federal-Palace Hotel

• Seek urgent govt intervention

Workers of the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino have alerted relevant government agencies and ministries to alleged “untold hardship and dehumanizing condition of service” to which they are being subjected by a South African company and managers of the hotel, Sun International, in collaboration with Zschlater Nigeria Limited, a recruiting firm.

Speaking under the aegis of Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association (HAPSSSA) and National Union of Hotels and Personal Services (NUHPSW) at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, the workers described the current working condition in the hotel as not different from what obtains in a ‘slave camp’. They called for urgent intervention by government agencies and other stakeholders.

Speaking on behalf of the workers, the President of HAPSSSA, Adeyemi Ademola, and Principal Assistant General Secretary of NUHPSW, Usman Mohammed, said they had endured much humiliation, provocation, intimidation and molestation and had been completely reduced to nothing, such that a South African chef could break a plate on the head of a Nigerian cook in the kitchen. Other maltreatment the workers suffer include “re-sounding slaps on the workers faces by the South Africans, termination of appointments at will and lack of healthcare facilities for the personnel”, a situation they alleged had led to the death of some workers, just as others were incapacitated without compensation.

The workers also complained that since 2007, they have been exposed to “tensed atmosphere of fear that made some of our colleagues develop hypertension, non-remittance of deducted taxes and thus debarring the workers from having tax certificates, illegal deduction of staff wages amounting to about N50 million and total disregard for the laws of the land.”

Ademola said: “We reject the antics of the Sun International under David Klieg and Bogosi Matlala (South Africans) to enslave Nigeria workers in the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino. We condemn in totality any act of racism and hereby demand the immediate resignation of the General Manager, Klieg, and the Human Resources Manager, Matlala, respectively and their deportation.”

Ademola further explained that when the workers could no longer endure the situation, they sought for the assistance of the unions through a four-day struggle that forced all the union representatives to sleep on the open field of the hotel for some days in January 2015 before the company could recognize the union, but not without the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and the Directorate of State Services (DSS).

He lamented that ever since the recognition of the union in 2015, the management has terminated the appointment of a number employees for participating in the struggle. “Some were even locked out through court injunction while the rest were denied the 2015 end- of-year bonus.”

The HAPSSSA president alleged that several positive measures taken to redress the situation have proved abortive, as the management of the hotel remained at arm’s length from the union representatives.

Ademola alleged that Zschlater Nigeria Limited, the recruiting company for the Sun International, is not a registered company in Nigeria. To back up his claim, Ademola said that a letter titled “Re-Fact Finding on Zschlater Nigeria Limited’ from the Ministry of Labour and Productivity dated August 3, 2015 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. E. Okogwu, reads that “…Zschlater Nigeria Limited is not in our records of Registered Private Employment Agencies.”

According to Ademola, “It is totally unacceptable and against our laws for a South African company to act as human resource manager in a Nigerian company.”