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    Labour matters threaten NIPCO’s N14bn Sheraton Hotel acquisition

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    …hotel orders residents out of premises

    By Abdul lawal

    Unresolved labour related issues may have ignited the crisis currently rocking Sheraton Hotel & Towers Abuja, one of the four star hotels Nigeria

    The issue revolves around the uncertainty of jobs following the N14bn majority acquisition of an indigeneous downstream key player- NIPCO PLC shares in Capital Hotel Plc, Owners of Abuja Sheraton hotel.

    Indication has revealed that , workers of the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja are currently raising concerns over their fate in the said sale of N14 billion majority shares of the company to 22 Hospitality Limited.

    The labour uncertainty is been made manifest in the number of staff resignation including those at Executive positions

    Last weekend, the new owners gave quit notice to all hotel residents and directed them and other clients to collect their unutilized deposits on or before the end of this week

    Report by an online media- SlyeNews.com indicate that some members of staff of the hospitality giant are already throwing in their letters of resignation, including its board of directors.

    According to the reports, Other issues in contention is the true identity of the real current majority shareholders or owners of the hospital..

    Claims and counter claim on the real owner is generating concern and lack of transparency in the transaction , on one hand , it was claimed that it was bought by Ramesh Kasangra on behalf of his family and on another hand it was being claimed that 22 Hospitality Ltd bought it on behalf of NIPCO Plc, an oil and gas firm.

    22 Hospitality Ltd, a parent company of NIPCO Plc recently announced it has acquired a majority stake in Capital Hotels Plc (CHP), owners of the prestigious Abuja Sheraton Hotel.

    Few hours after the announcement of the deal, members of the board, including Anthony Idigbe (Chairman), Alexander Thomopulos, Fadeke Olugbemi, Helen Da-Souza, and Akpofure Ibru, were alleged to have resigned from their positions in Capital Hotels and this May not be unconnected with the acquisition deal.

    Capital Hotels has immediately announced the appointment of a new board, whose members: Messrs Ramesh Kansagra -Non-Executive Director (Chairman); Rishi Kansagra – Non-Executive Director; Ravi Bachu – Executive Director; Aminu Abdulkadir- Non-Executive Director; Chief Paul Obi, – Non-Executive Director; and Pascal Demarchi – Executive Director.

    Some of the workers who confided in SlyeNews claimed they read about the acquisition only on the pages of newspapers, treating the workers with disdain having served the hospitality firm for decades. They said the issues have elicited uneasy calm in the company, as the employees are yet to know their fate in the deal.

    The workers numbering over 291 of different cadre said there is no consultation with the new owner, no hope on their entitlement if they are to be let off, when is the proposed rehabilitation of the hotel going to start and what becomes of them after upgrade? Are they going to be absorbed? All we are hearing is that one Indian firm bought the hotel !

    “There is no engagement whatsoever. We don’t know what is happening, we just heard in the news that the hotel has been sold. Now we are confused. What will be the fate of the workers? We don’t even know the new owner. We expect that by now, the workers should have been addressed so that we can know our position in the deal,” the source said.

    However, the sources said that the employees will not hesitate to “take the matter up”, if urgent actions are not taken by the parties to spell out the labour position.

    When contacted, the Chairman, FCT Brach of Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association (HAPSSSA), Babatunde Inumotele, told SlyeNews that, although the complain passed his table, but it has been sent to the National Secretariat for necessary actions. He decline to comment further on the matter.

    In another controversy, the managers of the hotel, Marirot International has been enmeshed in crisis as a result of the awful way it was presented following the acquisition of the majority stake in Capital Hotel plc by the new owners.

    Recall that in the announcement to herald the acquisition Mariot was described as managing the hotel in a bad manner leasing to the dilapidated state of the hotel.

    Marriott International, whose fate as managers of the hotel now hangs as the new owner is unlikely to retain her as managers equally objected to the ways and manners of the new owners claiming that it’s an hurried decision that could cause great distress to the workers, guest, suppliers among others.

    Marriott said the decision to close the hotel in a matter of days was hurried and that it would cause a lot of distress to the hotel employees, as well as disrupt the guests.

    Marriott, in a statement, said: “notice for closure was short.”

    Commenting on the development, Marriott spokesperson said:

    “The owners of the Sheraton Abuja Hotel have informed us that they intend to close the hotel in a matter of days. Whilst we acknowledge that the owners need to carry out significant renovation works at the hotel, we have objected to the closure on such short notice.

    “We are concerned that the hurried manner of such closure will cause distress to hotel employees, and significant disruption to guests, suppliers and partners.”

    After more than 30 years of managing the Abuja property at Ladi Kwali, the hotel management hinted that “we are now working with the HAPSSSA and the National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers (NUHPSW) unions to support the 291 hotel employees impacted by this rushed closure.”

    They claimed that Marriot too is on it way out of the hotel management follows Ng the upbraids it received for m.the new owner who they claimed is doing every thing humanly possible to get her out of the hotel administration.

    The workers are expressing their views under the auspices of Natiinal Union Hotel & Personal Service Workers ( NUHPSW). with a note of caution to the new owners to thread softly expecially on issues of welfare of the hundreds of staff working in the hotel .

    How on earth could a new owner of such luxury hotel like Sheraton just give few days of notice to close down without any consultation on the way forward.

    We know the owners have right to determine how to run its enterprise but courtesy demands good consultation in the way forward .

    The workers are pleading with authorities to contact me to their aid for they sweat not to be vain following the majority share acquisition .

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