Addax Brief Labour & NASSIT
Officials from the Ministry of Labour and that of National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), and representatives of Paramount Chiefs were taken on a site visit in the operation areas of Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone. The site visit was held on Tuesday 13th November 2012, when the officials were also briefed on the operations of the company in the country. The visit, according to the company, was to ensure the officials from the two institutions have a thorough knowledge about the operations of the project so as to be able to discern between false propaganda and the reality on the ground. The officials were also given the opportunity to address the meeting on their entity’s role in national development. (Photo: Derek Higgo, HSSE Manager…wants Addax’s dream come true)
Addax is currently in the process of developing a Greenfield renewable energy and agricultural project in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone. Following earlier misconceptions about the project, especially those having to do with the leasing of lands from community people and the burning issues raised by workers, Addax has now thought it prudent to extend its engagement beyond the media by also involving other major stakeholders in the implementation of their project activities.
Addressing Officials, the company’s Health, Social, Safety and the Environment Manager said they are currently using the Brazilian type of sugarcane technology for ethanol production, which will be exported to Europe. Derek Higgo noted that the project requires ten thousand hectares of sugarcane and expect a production of one million tones per anum. The project, he said will also produce energy that will complement the Bumbuna Electricity supply, with 2, 000 workers to be employed. The HSSE Manager reiterated the fact that the €267m project will be the first ever in the history of the country that will complement the seasonal production of the Bumbuna Dam. Currently, he went on they have about twenty thousand people in ninety two villages in the project area. He expressed the company’s commitment towards the development of the country, and called for the support of the government and people of Sierra Leone to ensure maximum protection of the company.
It can be recalled when local workers decided to down tools as a result of some unresolved grievances forwarded to management. Some of the issued raised include: lack of respect for local staffs and culture, discrimination and marginalization, no free canteen facility, no risk allowances, end of service benefit, annual leave allowance, medical allowance, probation period for newly recruited staffs, formation of national staff association and union, compassionate leave, sick leave, NASSIT entitlement, annual salary increase, insurance coverage, no office or shelter for drivers, no proper drinking water for staffs, training in replacement plan, housing facilities, transportation facilities etc.
After series of negotiations, the company has decided to lay these issues at bay. A committee is currently working hard in addressing the issues of salary increase and other entitlements. Whilst the company has decided to hire Mellian Buses that will be conveying workers to and from their various sites in order to prevent further problems encountered on transportation. The Bio-Energy Company has also constructed an ultra modern water purification facility, which was certified to be one of the most safe-drinking water in the world.
Officials of the NASSIT informed workers that they have so far processed about three hundred Social Security ID Cards that will be distributed soon. They reiterated the fact that some of the workers could not get their ID cards on time because of mistakes made during the filling of forms. They assured that some of these problems will be resolved soon as NASSIT intends to ensure that the processing of documents be made at Regional Offices.
Officials of the Labour Ministry assured that they are ready to negotiate burning issues raised by workers with management whenever they are called upon.
At the end of the meeting, workers’ representatives suggested that NASSIT and the Labour Ministry should conduct more sensitizations so as to dispel most of the misconceptions on their operations within the workforce.
By A. R. Bedor
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