A staff of Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals LTD, Adeya Osaro, says the firm denied him two years’ worth of salaries from 2017 to 2019.
During that period, Osaro was in a hospital in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, receiving treatment for grade-two kidney failure.
He said when he returned to Nigeria, he was informed by Eva Onyebuoha, the assistant head of human resource in the firm that his employment as a process control engineer had been terminated in absentia because he was medically unfit.
Having received this information in confidence, Osaro said he would send in his resignation.
But he said the company’s refusal to either accept his resignation or give him a letter of termination had made it difficult for him to access his pension or seek out a new job.
He said the treatment he received improved the state of his kidney from grade two to grade one.
Osaro maintained that following the self-sponsored treatment; he was fully fit, contrary to Onyebuoha’s claim.
“I was having health challenges which the company’s clinic was unable to handle as a result of lack of expertise and equipment. I was experiencing loss of weight, abdominal pains, dehydration and loss of appetite,” he said.
Osaro said he was advised by the medical team at the firm to seek counsel outside.
“I went first to Atinu Hospital, which is my HMO – Health Management Organisation. I was diagnosed of a damaged muscle in my lower abdomen but was advised to seek better treatment because my situation was more critical since it was affecting my kidney.”
Then he decided to seek treatment abroad.
“While away on the course of treatment, I informed the company about the reports and they regularly communicated with me on the phone. A senior official at the HR department, Godswill Eke, followed up with phone communications.
“He said the company is in prayers with me, and once I am done with my treatment that I should return with medical reports for reimbursement and integration.”
While Osaro was away, another development that would become thorny sprung up.
The company had in 2015 sponsored him and 28 other staff on an 18-month course to India but chose to hold on to his certificate.
“During the period of my absence, our training certificates from India were released, and mine was withheld pending my return. I pressed for the release, but the company refused, saying it would only be released on arrival.
Osaro said his salary was stopped as soon as his medical leave was approved in 2017.
He said he reminded the company of this, informing the management of the fact that he was footing his bills.
“I complained, but they promised to look into it when I return with my medical reports. Later on, the company without informing me used my pictures on the front page of the company’s annual IMPACT magazine. I was saddened by it, and I reached out to a senior management member who advised him to stick to his request for his training certificate from India.
When Osaro returned in 2019, he said he received the news of his verbal dismissal.
“I went to the company to resume work. I was told that I am not medically fit and I have been released in absentia, so I should do my clearance and go. I said to her – Onyebuoha, I would do the clearance only if my benefits and entitlement and my training certificate from India are released to me.
“She said I would have to report to her office again the next day. While at the gate the next day, I phoned her; she said the company didn’t want to see me and that I should leave the premises.
“I sought a lawyer and wrote to them. They acknowledged receipt of the letter but refused to respond.”
Osaro said his next move was to go to the Public Complaints Commission in Rivers State.
According to him, the firm has since January gave him excuses and false hope while doing nothing about his entitlement.
“This all started because they used my image on their magazine and I told them ‘you should have asked me or told me you want to do something like this. That was the only statement I made.”
After his complaint, Osaro said the company’s head of media and communication, Josy Nkwocha, was queried.
The company’s representative, Onyebuoha, told Tropics NigeriaReporters that Osaro had not completed his termination process.
She said the firm had no issues with him and advised him to honour their invitation.
But Osaro insisted that had emailed his resignation but the company did not respond.
He said without an exit letter from the firm, his life had been put on hold.
“Wherever you go now, they would always ask for the exit letter from the former company,” he said. “Two weeks ago, I was at the pension office to take 25 per cent of my pension; they told me they couldn’t process my request without the same release letter.”