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C’Rivers Assembly distances self from allegations against PZ Wilmar plantations

The Cross River State House of Assembly has debunked reports that it is investigating two companies; Biase Plantation Limited and EYOP industries Limited over allegations that 50 pregnant women had died while working for PZ Wilmar since 2012.

Besides, the State Chapter of National Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees (NUAAE) has discredited the allegations, saying “These allegations against these two companies, which were recently reported in the media, are unsubstantiated, false and therefore malicious.”

In a statement, Cross River NUAAE chairman, Otei Godwin, said “NUAAE have been the registered trade union in these two companies since 2013, despite the false allegations that these companies have no trade union presence and thus, workers were being denied of their basic rights to associate and to bargain collectively.”

The statement explained that both PZ Wilmar and EYOP had their first negotiated Condition of Service agreements with the union in 2015. In 2018, the service agreement was reviewed and finalized in 2019.

The terms of the Condition of Service fully comply with Labour Act, which includes provisions for annual leave, maternity leave and ensuring the general welfare of workers is taken care of.

“There have been no recorded deaths of any pregnant woman in both companies, contrary to the unfounded allegations that 50 pregnant workers dying in these two estates as well as workers not being permitted to go on annual leave or maternity leave,” Godwin said.

“We would like to commend the management of these two companies for implementing the agreed-upon Condition of Service as well as the new National Minimum Wage Act, therefore resulting in robust working environments for workers.

NUAAE added that “Both companies can be rest assured that NUAAE, and the workers we represent, will continue to have trust and faith in them while looking forward to continuing our harmonious working relationship.”

While debunking the fake news and claims in a similar rebuttal, Hope Obeten, Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of the State Assembly, Hon Eteng Jonah-Williams, said “Our attention has been drawn to media reports claiming that PZ Wilmar and its subsidiary, Biase Plantations Limited, are under an investigation by the Assembly Committee on Agriculture following petitions filed by the host communities.

“The House of Assembly wishes to state that it is not in receipt of any official correspondence from the host communities on the said matter, therefore, such publication is unsubstantiated, misleading and defamatory,” Jonah-Williams said.

“The House Committee visited Biase Plantations Limited and host communities as part of its statutory oversight functions.

“The company, PZ Wilmar and its subsidiaries, Biase Plantations Limited and Eyop Industries Limited are fully operating within the state extant laws in the discharge of its duties as major processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils.”