Workers’ protest over severance package on Tuesday greeted the shutting down of the Abuja Sherston Hotel by Marriott International, managers of the hotel.
Marriot shut down the hotel on behalf of Capital Hotel Plc, to enable the new owners, 22 Hospitality Limited, renovate the dilapidating structure.
The workers refused to vacate the hotel until their severance package, duly negotiated with the management, is paid.
In a statement, the management told guests: “We wish to kindly inform that the hotel is closed temporarily from today, Tuesday October 18, 2022.
“We sincerely apologise for all the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”
Upon the purchase of 51% majority stake, the new owners, 22 Hospitality, a subsidiary of NIPCo Plc, had expressed its desire to restore the hotel to its former glory and make it the first-choice luxury hotel in Abuja.
It had also reassured that up to 70% of the workers would be reabsorbed.
NIPCo spokesman, Lawal Taofeek, had in a statement quoted the Group Executive Director, Aminu Abdulkadir, saying that “In the past, Starwood had acknowledged in various reports that the hotel was in a much degraded state and would require hard renovations to make it brand compliant.”
He noted that “despite the hotel’s poor condition and non-compliance with its brand standards, Marriott/Starwood has continued to manage the Sheraton Abuja Hotel, which is currently in a dilapidated and deplorable state.”
Also, the new owners were said to have informed Marriott of its decision to temporarily shut down the hotel in September, to enable the management to prepare ahead of the closure.
But the preparation or lack of it had upset both the regular and casual workers, who used the opportunity of the protest to vent on the state of the hotel being managed by Marriott International.
Their frustrations also bothered on the safety and welfare of the workers, as they carried placards bearing various inscriptions like: Bearing placards that read, “Marriott Pay Us What Is Due To Us”, “Marriott Stop Manipulating The Workers”, “Enough Of Exposure To Safety Hazards”, “Marriott Treat Us Like Human Beings; We Are Not Animals”, workers frowned at the clumsy closure, which did not come with their severance package.
Media accounts of the protest said the The General-Secretary of the National Union of Hotels, Personal Services Workers (NUHPSA), Leke Success, as saying: “The protest is to ensure that Marriott International pay the money that we jointly agreed to be paid as severance package in view of the new owner shutting down this place today.
“We just heard about a week ago that the new owner, NIPCO, who just acquired this place, decided that they will shut it down and commence renovations.”
He continued: “But up until now, the management is still dilly-dallying, and very soon they will lower the banner and shut this place.
“So we cannot risk that happening. It is because the money was not paid that we are here to protest peacefully that this money should be paid or we will not leave this place.
“Agreement is agreement, if the money is not paid, we will not leave. Each day that passes we will change our demands, after today we will demand for damages because they have breached the agreement.”