Recession is biting hard as Nigeria’s biggest employers of labour aside the government, Dangote Group has fired 48 members of staff.
The group which is owned by Africa and Nigeria’s richest man, Aliko Dangote sacked 36 expatriate and 12 Nigerian workers from the group’s headquarters and one of the subsidiaries, Dangote Cement Plc.
According to a report by Punch newspaper, the sack of the workers was not unconnected with the current high cost of running business in the country occasioned by the unavailability of foreign exchange and the unprecedented hike in the naira to dollar exchange rate.
It was reported that the huge amounts in foreign currencies being paid to the expatriate workers had become a burden on Dangote due to the steady depreciation in the value of the naira and the difficulties of raising enough dollars.
Consequently, the firm decided to replace the expatriates with Nigerians who have acquired the requisite experience on the job, as paying them in naira will be less problematic.
The sacked Nigerian workers were however fired for disciplinary issues. In a letter signed by the President/Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, dated Thursday, October 20, 2016, and seen by Punch, Dangote said it was constrained to take the “tough” decision as economic factors had affected the cost of production.
The letter, which was titled: ‘Recent Retirement Exercise’ read in part, “This year has been a very challenging year for us as a business. The unavailability of foreign exchange coupled with an unprecedented hike in the exchange rate has resulted in increased costs across the organisation.
“This called for a proper review and adjustment of our costs across board to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the deployment of our factors of production in a bid to eliminate redundancies that we know exist, which resulted in some tough decisions, which means losing staff, including some of our colleagues.
“On Friday, October 14, 2016, we began the process of staff cutbacks as it is imperative to review our human capital deployment for the required cutbacks that would ensure efficiency and eliminate redundancies in the allocation of human resources.
“This first phase of this exercise involved the cutback of 36 expatriate staff across the Dangote Cement Plc and Dangote Industries Limited, and 12 local staff members in Dangote Industries Limited.”
As an organisation with international operations, the group promised that it would continue to review and restructure its human capital deployment to ensure “optimal allocation of skill sets and size of the workforce each function requires.”
Dansa Foods Nigeria Limited, which claims to be a member of the Dangote Group, has reportedly been unable to pay its workers for the past six months.
The company, which produces Dansa Juice and other goods, had laid off more than half of the workforce following dwindling sales and high cost of production caused by high exchange rate of the naira. The company had suspended the production of Dansa Juice and other products, and was only producing Mowa Bottle Water.