The Nigerian Union of Journalists has said that it will picket the headquarters of ThisDay and Newswatch newspapers over non-payment of journalists’ salaries.
In separate letters to Nduka Obaigbena and Jimoh Ibrahim, the owners of ThisDay and Newswatch Times Newspapers respectively, the NUJ urged the management to “urgently” offset the backlog of salaries of journalists in the organization.
While ThisDay journalists have not been paid for seven months, those at Newswatch Times (formerly known as Newswatch) are being owed about six months.
The NUJ stressed, in their letter, that the successes recorded by THISDAY and Newswatch Times Newspapers could be attributed to the hard work of its members who toil daily to ensure the Newspapers never fail to hit the news stand.
“It is thus imperative to note that in order to maintain a harmonious working relationship, staff salaries should not be allowed to accumulate,” the NUJ stated in the letter dated March 3 and signed by Shu’aibu Usman, the National Secretary.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES over the phone, Mr. Usman said that the union will not disclose the dates for picketing the companies.
“It can be this week, next week, or anytime. The more we leave it open, the better for us,” he said.
Last January, ThisDay Newspapers workers’ attempt to protest their backlog of unpaid salaries was met with brute force as Mr. Obaigbena unleashed armed police officers on them.
In April last year, following the terrorist attack at ThisDay’s Abuja office which claimed two lives, Mr. Obaigbena who was also owing salary arrears at the time, attributed the non-payment of salaries to the incident.
The ThisDay boss had said that the company lost “buildings, multi-million dollar printing and computer-to-plate equipments” to the attack by Boko Haram insurgents.
“No one planned for a terror attack in Nigeria and so we were left to fend for ourselves,” Mr. Obaigbena had said in a letter to staff.
“Despite that, we continued to meet our commitments as due. But when the cost of outsourcing printing to third parties caught up with us, things began to slow.
“After paying N600 million in unplanned costs to outside printers, we began to feel the pain from October last year when many of you began to experience some delays in salary payments.”