EBOJELE AKHERE PATRICK, Benin
WORKERS in the distressed Bendel Brewery Limited in Edo State have sent Save Our Soul (SOS) message to the state Governor Adams Oshiomhole to listen to their plight and revive the company which has stopped operations in the past three years.
The workers also demanded for the payment of 36 months (three years) salary arrears and 39 months arrears accruing from 39 months workers pension scheme as well as nonpayment of leave transport grant (LTG) since 2009 owed them by the state government.
Besides, the aggrieved workers also sought for payment of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax deductions from salary not remitted to government; non-implementation of National Joint Industrial Councils (NJIC) since 2010, non-payment of terminal benefits to retirees,non-payment of overtime arrears since July 2012 as well as several other demands.
According to the protesters in a save our souls (SOS) letter to Oshiomhole, “the entire workers deem it wise as our last hope to organize this peaceful protest having exhausted all avenues to draw your attention”
Spokesman of the group, Comrade Mike Mike Osabuohien, reminded the governor that “as we speak, the Brewery is in comatose. The brewery is no longer working since June 2014. The place is overgrown with weeds and presently inhabited by reptiles”
Among those who signed the letter are Comrades Jonathan Osemaga, Mike Osabuohien and Sunny Izevbokun.
The workers further lamented that they have been recording the death of their members due to financial hardship, stressing that the “intervention” of the state governor “will lead to a turnaround of the brewery so that workers can smile again as any palliative measures to keep the place running will be very much appreciated.”
The workers had severally expressed their frustrations with an appeal to the state government to rescue the once bubbling company and pride of people of the state from going into extinction.
Governor Oshiomhole during the 2013 May Day, disclosed that the state government had paid the N2billion debt owed by the Bendel Brewery Limited and explained talks were on with relevant authorities and management of Churchgate, an Indian company to find lasting resolution to the lingering legal tussle between the state government and the management of the firm.
The pending intractable legal battle had prompted the court to order for remand of former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, Osagie Obayuwana, over the non-compliance of the state government on an interlocutory injunction of the Federal High Court 1 sitting in Benin City in a suit involving it and a private investor, Churchgate Industries Limited, in the state-owned Bendel Brewery Limited.
Justice Adamu Hobon ruled that Obayuwana be remanded in prison Custody until the state government was able to provide an affidavit of compliance with the order.
The suit was instituted by Churchgate to challenge the alleged arbitrary and illegal action of Edo State Government in forcibly ejecting the firm from the management of the Bendel Brewery on June 17, 2003.