The workers accused the agency of violation of agreement.
Some former employees of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, have accused the agency of unfairly terminating their appointments last year.
In a press conference on Monday in Lagos, the workers said that a “massive” number of them were issued letters of compulsory retirement from service over their inability to attain the requisite minimum educational qualification.
A circular to the workers in 2010 mandated them to obtain at least a Higher National Diploma or a Bachelors Degree by December 2013.
However, in a letter by Theo Adegor, Assistant Director, Employee Relations and Discipline, the workers’ appointments were terminated in July 31, 2013.
“In view of the on-going reform and in line with section 7 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS (Establishment) Act 2007 No. 13, I am directed to convey the decision of the service to you, that you be retired with effect from 31st July, 2013 due to lack of requisite minimum qualification,” read the letter.
According to the dismissed workers, the management of the federal government agency had, between 2010 and 2012, issued them a letter of implementation of a ‘Transitional Arrangement Offer’ which gives room for employees’ career improvement.
In addition to the letter, the management also issued a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding it purportedly signed with the Joint Union Council, an umbrella body of workers within the establishment, which read: “You are required to improve your educational qualification to a Bachelor degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in a discipline relevant to the business of the service on or before 31st December, 2013.”
Bassey Usani, a representative of the aggrieved workers, said that they accepted the offers at the time despite some deficiencies in the letter.
“The deficiency we are talking about here is, from 2010 to 2013 is just a three year period. And it is not possible for any one of us to have HND or BSC in three years,” Mr. Usani said.
“Second, the memorandum of understanding they signed, they did not carry the junior workers along before it was drafted. It was just a one man show.
“It was a great shock to us to receive letter of compulsory retirement from FIRS management on the 15th July, 2013, that we are retired effective from 31st July, 2013, in spite of the unacceptable 31st December 2013 deadline for educational qualification upgrade,” said Mr. Usani.
“At that point it was obvious to us that FIRS management had pre-determined our unjust sack before the letter of Transitional Arrangement Offer was issued to us,” Mr. Usani added.
Over 700 workers, according to Mr. Usani, were affected by the retrenchment.
Some of them said that they no longer intend to work for the FIRS. Despite receiving various amounts in ‘severance’ payments up to N6 million, they said they are owed much more by the agency.
“The money we were paid, it was not stated what it was meant for,” said Sherifat Ajayi.
“The qualification I’m having is equivalent HND, Advanced National Secretarial Diploma. That is what I said I can do. But once they said they are not going to take it, let them give me all my entitlements. I worked 32 years in service,” she added.
Efforts to reach the FIRS were not successful. Phone calls and e-mails were not responded to.
The workers called for an immediate remission of their five months salary from August 31st, 2013, to December 2013; a payment of all their benefits; and a letter of apology by the FIRS to the workers published in three national dailies.
“This act by the FIRS management is considered cruel, inhumane and absolute injustice which we shall continue to fight until justice is done,” Mr. Usani added.