Workers of Imo Rubber Estate in Obitti, Ohaji/Egbema local Government Area of Imo State have lamented the non-payment of 3 months salaries and 6 months salaries allowances, annual leave allowance, medical allowance by the Management, Win Back Nigeria Limited.
The company has been managing the Multi-billion naira Rubber Plantation planted by Chief Micheal Opara when he was the Premier of Eastern Region. The Plantation is known to have have generated funds for the Imo State Government since its inception while the host communities are relegated to the background economically and socially.
The workers who also decried lack of payment of their Christmas and New Year bonuses for 2017 by the Management cautioned them to stop withholding their salaries and allowances as it is against the law establishing the Imo Rubber Estate Plantation, Obitti. They called for the payment of their arrears to avoid a showdown, saying they deserve their pay.
The workers who spoke to newsmen in Owerri, recently through Livy Okereke and Adams Okwu and also representatives of Rubber Tappers – regretted that “despite the huge money we generate for the company, the Win Back Nigeria Limited owe us hugely – 3 months salaries and 6 months allowances including the 2017 Christmas and New Year bonuses”
They continued “The Management is feeding fat while the workers who produce the money are being starved. This must stop. We have been taking for granted. Our salaries are very little and yet we are owed. This nonsense must stop or we down our tools. There is too much of shortchanging and corruption in the company while the host communities are suffering from lack of social amenities from the government”.
The workers appealed to Imo State Government led by Governor Rochas Okorocha to urgently intervene in their welfare to rescue them and pay them their salaries and allowances. They also called on Win Back Nigeria Limited to stop harassing and intimidating them with sack threats should they embark on protest to demand for their wages, warning that their rights as workers and bonafide citizens should be maintained and respected.
This newspaper gathered that the Imo Rubber Estate, Obitti Ohaji is one of the largest Rubber Plantations in West Africa but for over 40 years of production no gainful achievement has been recorded as the host communities continously lament that they are being denied their rights of ownership of the land.