At the same time their colleagues shut down the Kaduna station, staff at the headquarters of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Abuja on Monday staged a protest against non payment of their allowances and Insurance levy.
All of them wearing black clothes, the workers decried poor treatment of the corporation and its staff by the federal government.
A staff who refused to disclose her identity told PREMIUM TIMES there had not been power supply and water in the premises, adding that elevators in the building are also not working.
”We don’t have power and water in the building. We have not been paid our Transport Allowances and arrears since 2010, we don’t even have insurance,” the worker said.
”Also, no seats in the office, reporters don’t have office equipment like midgets, staff are to buy equipment and fund assignments themselves without getting paid. We also don’t have office materials like papers to print in the office.”
The Radio Television Theatre and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) secretary in the office, Ishaku Musa, told PREMIUM TIMES the situation at the headquarters was bad beyond control.
”We are mourning today and the protest is tagged Black Monday. Things have gone bad beyond control, when you look at the staff welfare, it is nothing to write home about,” he said.
”The working condition at FRCN is something that you can never agree that FRCN is like this. When you look at the staff themselves, they don’t have working materials, they don’t have seats to use in the offices. Most of the allowances are not being paid, and that is why we have called for this Black Monday and started this protest,” Mr Musa said.
”The permanent staff have not been paid since 2010 their T&D, Transport Allowance and accommodation. You would use your own money to travel for official assignment, it would have to take about two-three years before a staff gets paid,” he added.
Mr Musa also complained that FRCN does not use the in-house training certificate in promotions.
”Talking about training and retraining of staff, we are facing a serious problem in that sector. We have FRCN Training School in Lagos, which has now been changed to National Broadcast Academy. Within our operation, the Management does not recognise it as a step for promotion. Only the outside broadcast recognise the academy’s certificate.”
Similarly, the financial secretary of RATTAWU, FRCN headquarters, Adaora Nzekwe, said staff of private stations that go for training at the school were getting promoted by their organisations.
”They would ask you to go, but you wont get your payment. They would hold you for that whole period that you would be there, some of the programmes are meant to hold for four to eight weeks, but when you go, you are meant to receive your feeding and accommodation allowance before going. At times, you go there and getting back one year two years, you have not gotten your money back, after you have spent your own personal money doing that, which is not supposed to be so.
Asked if the union served any notice before embarking on the peaceful protest, Mr Musa said it notified the management and got the go ahead with conditions that it must be a peaceful protest, without destruction of any government property.
According to Mr Musa, the Director-General, Mansur Liman, addressed the protesters and told them to exercise patience, stating that the problem was coming from the federal government and something would be done about it.
He said Mr Liman told them President Muhammadu Buhari had publicly promised to do something about their complaints, saying with time, the equipment would be replaced with digital tools as in use by other FM stations in the country.
PREMIUM TIMES made efforts to reach the Director-General; but his Special Adviser, Haruna Idris, directed our reporter to get the full statements from the union.