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Unpaid Salaries Row: ThisDay publisher, Obaigbena, orders dismissal of 13 journalists

The management of THISDAY Newspapers on Wednesday took a decision to dismiss 13 employees who issued a strike notice to the publication on Tuesday, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

A top management staff within the company told PREMIUM TIMES that Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Leaders & Company Limited, which runs THISDAY Newspaper titles and Arise TV Network, wrote in an internal memo that the 13 journalists attached to its bureau in Abuja should be paid due salaries, but should be compelled to pay all outstanding debts they owed the company before their contracts are terminated.

“Please work out what each of them is owed including pensions, net off all debt to the company and terminate all the appointments with immediate effect,” the source quoted Mr. Obaigbena as saying in an internal memo addressed to the company’s acting head of human resources, Emmanuel Efeni. “This company has policies and will not be run in the village square.”

The sacked workers had in the Tuesday correspondence appealed to the paper’s management to clear backlog of salaries, a situation they said had left them unable to “meet our obligations both to our families and other responsibilities.”

Citing, amongst other concerns, “an abysmal disregard” of their contribution by the company’s management, the distressed workers warned the company of their resolve to embark on a week strike if their demands fell through.

“Should the management fail to pay us by Friday, June 10, 2016, we will have no option than to embark on a one-week warning strike from Sunday June 12, 2016 until June 19, 2016,” they wrote. “Please, note that an indefinite strike will ensue at the expiration of the warning strike.”

In the notice, which was collectively-signed by Tobi Soniyi, Olawale Ajimotokan, Patrick Ugeh, Senator Iroegbu, James Emejo, Omololu Ogunmade, Paul Obi, Ndubusi Francis, Dele Ogbodo, Damilola Oyedele, Chineme Okafor, Godwin Omoigui and Onyebuchi Ezigbo, the workers said, “For several years, we have sacrificed everything – emotionally, physically and materially – to ensure the continued survival of THISDAY.”

But in his memo, our sources said, Mr. Obaigbena said the reporters “canvassed” for adverts for the newspaper which were not paid for, saying the nonpayment had contributed to the more than N1 billion the paper is being owed in revenues.

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