There has been a mass sack of workers at the African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) PLC, publishers of the Tribune titles, based in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria.
At least 160 workers in all the departments were affected in the mass purge which took place last week.
The retrenchment exercise which took place barely a month after the appointment of Mr. Edward Dickson as the new Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the company, was a shock to many of the affected workers. According to sources, the management felt that it was necessary to prune down the over bloated staff strength estimated at 700, adding that a staff survey they conducted revealed that other media houses have not more than 300 workers.
A source said, “they went to other newspapers and found out that their staff strength are far less than our own. They claimed that they went to a Lagos-based newspaper and found out that they employed not more than 300 staff and they do not see the reason why they should have 700 staff.”
Other reasons adduced for the retrenchment include drop in the company’s working capital and its inability to give dividends to shareholders.
Our source revealed that the new MD in a meeting with the staff pointed out that it was necessary to down size in order not to disappoint the founding father of ANN, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, adding that he was not ready to preside over an establishment that would go into extinction during his tenure.
It was gathered that he pleaded with the affected staff that they should not see the retrenchment as a vindictive exercise but rather a necessary one to ensure that the company does not die. Some of the affected staff were immediately given half of their entitlements and asked to pick a cheque for the balance of their entitlements in a month’s time.
P.M.NEWS gathered that workers who had not spent up to five years with the company were not given any money. They have therefore appealed to the management to consider them for severance allowance.
One of the affected workers who spoke with our correspondent said: “My brother, I have been thrown back to the labour market. I am now jobless and don’t know what to do for now to maintain myself and my family.”
Another worker who was not affected and also spoke with P.M.NEWS under anonymity said: “Thank God I am not affected. It was a big tsunami that passed through my office last week. Could you believe that it affected line editors like assistant editors and the rest?”