…warn Ambassador Seriki, threaten to carry action to Spanish Parliament soon
Some members of the Spanish Labour union, Union General de Trabajadores ( General Union of Workers) (GUT), on Wednesday joined the 11 sacked staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Spain to protest the non-payment of the entitlements of the retrenched Nigerian workers at the embassy building in Madrid.
During the protest, the Spanish trade unionists led by Manuel Gonzales and the sacked Nigerian workers under the leadership of Pastor Larry carried placards with various inscriptions denouncing the action of the Nigerian Ambassador to the country, Ademola Seriki, against the 11 sacked Nigerian staff.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Recall Ambassador Ademola Seriki” and “He is a disgrace to Nigeria.”
The protesting Spanish unionists accused Seriki of perpetrating injustice against the 11 sacked Nigerian Embassy staff, whom he laid off since February without paying many of them their entitlements.
The protesters warned Ambassador Seriki to pay the sacked Nigerian staff their entitlements in full or face stiffer mass action from the entire Spanish workers.
They warned the Nigerian Ambassador that his continued refusal to pay the sacked Nigerian Embassy staff their due entitlements would result in taking the matter to the Spanish Parliament soon.
The protesting Spanish unionists and the representative of the 11 sacked Nigerian Embassy staff were later invited inside the embassy building for a meeting with the Charge d’Affair, Mrs Beatrice Danladi.
At the meeting, representatives of the Spanish labour union and that of the 11sacked workers told the Nigerian Embassy charge d’Affair, Mrs Danladi, to convey their grievances to the Ambassador, Seriki.
They informed the charge d’Affair of a line up of further actions planned by the Spanish labour union if the Ambassador fail to fully settle the entitlements of all the 11 sacked Nigerian Embassy staff.
The charge d’Affair of the Nigerian Embassy, however, promised to convey their message to the Ambassador said to be currently away in Nigeria.
Recall that there was tension last month as Ambassador Seriki withheld the entitlements of the 11 sacked Nigerian Embassy staff in Spain.
The Embassy staff in protested their sack and demanded Seriki’s recall.
They had embarked on protests on the streets of Madrid, the country’s capital, over their plight.
First News had reported that only three out of the 11 Nigerian Embassy staff sacked by the Ambassador were paid only a part of their entitlements since February, when they were disengaged. The remaining nine have yet to be paid anything.
Ambassador Seriki, it was gathered, had early this year proposed to the Nigerian staff of the Embassy a change of their job contracts from permanent to temporary, a proposal said to contradict the Labour laws in Spain.
The Nigerian staff were also said to have explained to Seriki that his proposal would jeopardise their social security contributions, which they had been making for the number of years they had been in the service of the Embassy in Spain.
But Ambassador Seriki was said to have rejected the workers’ pleas and went ahead to order the termination of their permanent employment status.
Already, the matter has resulted in a legal tussle with the aggrieved workers dragging Ambassador Seriki before a Spanish High Court in Madrid. The Ambassador is however being represented in court by a lawyer, because of the diplomatic immunity he enjoys.
No fewer than 11 different suits have been instituted at the Spanish High Court by the aggrieved Nigerian Embassy workers against the Ambassador.
The development is now said to be causing some discomfort for the Nigerian Diplomatic Mission in the country as the Envoy, Ambassador Seriki is alleged to have continued to violate Spain’s labour laws.
His action, our correspondent further gathered, may eventually lead to a diplomatic row between the Nigerian and Spanish governments, if not urgently resolved.
While terminating the appointments of the Nigerian staff in January this year, the Embassy in a notice signed on behalf of the Ambassador by the Minister Head of Chancery, Mrs B. U Danladi, had cited the need to reduce the financial burden on the Embassy as a major reason.
A copy of the notice of termination of appointment issued to the workers but obtained from a source in Abuja, stated, “Following the ongoing reforms and reorganisation of the Embassy, it has become paramount to reduce the number of Locally Recruited Staff to ease the financial burden on the Embassy’s finances. Therefore, I am directed to issue you a notice of termination of appointment with effect from 24th January 2022 to 7th February 2022, being a statutory requirement for termination of appointments to issue fifteen (15) days notice.”
But it was reliably gathered that the Embassy had since employed many foreigners, who are even being paid higher wages, to replace the sacked Nigerian workers, while it has yet to pay all the disengaged staff their entitlements.
First News had earlier reported a protest by the sacked workers and other sympathetic Nigerians last month. They had staged a protest in front of the High Court in the Spanish capital, Madrid, against the alleged excesses of Ambassador Seriki, demanding his immediate recall by the Nigerian Government.
The sacked Embassy staff, who had carried placards with various inscriptions and chanted protest songs, said they decided to take their grievances to the premises of the Madrid High Court, where a case of falsification of their documents had been brought before the Magistrate against the Nigerian Ambassador, to let the entire world know of the ordeals Seriki had allegedly been putting them and their innocent family members through, since his resumption as the envoy.
They had accused Ambassador Seriki of effecting a sudden change and violation of the Embassy’s protocol by reducing their salaries, forging their documents and sacking Nigerian staff, who had worked for several years with the Mission and replacing them with foreigners.
The fear of further action by the sacked workers, it was learnt, had continued to create tension among the remaining workers, particularly the newly employed foreign staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Madrid, Spain.
Ambassador was said to have already replaced the 11 sacked Nigerian staff with foreigners from South America and Romania, who are allegedly being paid salaries three times higher than the retrenched Nigerians per hour.
Some of the foreign staff newly engaged by the Nigerian Embassy in Spain, First News, learnt include a receptionist, cleaners, gardeners and others, who are citizens of the above-listed countries.