These are not the cosiest of times for the hospitality industry in Kwara State as its prime hotel in Ilorin, the State capital, Kwara Hotels, has thrown 123 of its staff into the already over-populated job market.
This, it was gathered, is to save N9 million monthly and make the 42 years old outfit more efficient and profitable.
Labour is baring its fangs, though it is reported to have entered into negotiations with the government and board of the hotel.
It is believed that the downsizing, which Governor AbduFatah Ahmed’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Muideen Akorede, prefers to call rightsizing, claimed 40% of jobs in the edifice.
AKorede however says those rightsized were not up to 40%.of staff strength.
“It’s not true. It wasn’t because of the recession (they were sacked). It was part of the government’s effort to ensure efficiency in the management and operations of the hotel.
“These staff were engaged by the previous management consultants engaged by the state government to run the place and the staff were engaged by them.
“So, when the government’s Harmony Holdings (Limited) which is the government’s owned agency took it over they said to the staff that they cannot continue to maintain the number of staff.
“There was a high proportion of staff managing a smaller proportion of rooms and this management was having to augment them by as much as nine million naira per month so, it was not sustainable.
“So it is part of the effort by the government to reorganise them, that’s why they had to leave. It wasn”t up to 40% that was asked to leave i would need to check the figures and revert but its not up to 40% .
“As of last week, an agreement was reached with labour union about how to gradually disengage this people and pay them for thier entitlement so its not up to 40% and its not as a result of the recession.
“It’s just that the place was not being run as efficiently and as positively as the government wanted.”
He disclosed that Harmony Holdings has taken over the management of the hotels and the hotel’s board is effectively in charge.
Asked if the sacking is an ongoing process to make the government-owned companies efficient, the governor’s spokesman answered in the negative.
Dr. Korede praised the state’s holding company, pointing out that it effectively brught its tranport company, Kwara Express (now dubbed Harmony Transport) back to life and profitability within a year after years of posting losses.
“Harmony Holdings has a charge to manage all state government equity in all companies…. So they are taking organisations and each one has peculiar problems so they don’t have a mandate to sack people, they just have a mandate to make the place efficient, Kwara Express is now profitable without losing staff; Harmony Investment and Property Development Company is profitable without losing staff.”
“So what they have done with Kwara Hotel” he added, “is trying to make sure that while they are repositioning the place, their overheads are not to the extent that, Harmony Holdings is now taking its own money to run Kwara Hotel which is what was happening there.”
The Foundation stone of the hotel was laid in 1971, by former Governor, Col David Lasisi Bamigboye, and commissioning took place in 1975 by the same Governor.
The hotel was remodelled in 2003 by the administration of former civilian Governor, Rear Admiral Lawal and has remained the foremost hotel in Kwara State.