Minister of Power, Bart Nnaji
By Linda Eroke
Organised labour in the nation’s hospitality industry has decried the rising cost of operation, stating that many hotels in the country spend over 30 per cent of their revenue on Automotive Gas Oil, popularly called diesel.
Speaking under the umbrella of Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association, (HAPSSSA), the union also raised the alarm over the state of insecurity particularly the threat posed by the Boko Haram sect, which it said has undermined the growth of hotel business in the country.
President of the union, Comrade Micah Isaiah, who spoke weekend in Lagos, lamented the huge cost of alternative power supply, noting that it was already taking its toll on the welfare of workers.
“Most of the challenges faced by operators in the hospitality industry involve epileptic power supply where we have to run generator for almost 24 hours. Over 30 per cent of revenue is spent on diesel. This does not include the rate paid for electricity consumption. This is affecting profitability and the welfare of members,” Isaiah lamented.
Speaking further, the union president called on government to tackle the challenge of insecurity in the Northern part of country, stressing that the bombings and killings in the region have drastically reduced the level of patronage in the hospitality industry.
“The problem of insecurity has posed serious challenge to our industry. The hotels in the North are not doing well as low patronage has been recorded because of the Boko Haram insurgency. We are calling on government to take decisive step in tackling this issue in the overall interest of the economy,” he stated.
He further called on the government to revamp the tourism sector rather than relying solely on oil, and argued that the sector was a huge money spinner for the nation.
He said: “The country is surrounded by mineral and natural resources which are yet to be tapped but rather government relies solely on crude oil. Government should diversify into other sectors like agriculture and tourism.
“Many countries survive through tourism but it is unfortunate that our government has refused to look in that direction. So we appeal to government to live up to the challenge. If other sectors are opened up, more people will be engaged productively,” he added.
Isaiah expressed regret that most hotels in the country operate below standard and attributed it to refusal by management to allow workers unionise. He maintained that any employer that does not respect the right of workers cannot operate efficiently and called on hoteliers not to see unions as a threat to their businesses but as partnership in progress.
He said the union has embarked on massive unionisation campaign and was currently recruiting more manpower especially in the area of organising in order to improve the stand in the industry.
“Most hotels in Nigeria are not unionised and this explains why the union commenced massive unionisation campaign and to recruit more manpower, especially organising secretaries, to have enough manpower to confront the challenges in the industry with a view to improving industry standard.
“We shall employ all available legal means, due process to ensure that these hotels are unionised. But if they remain recalcitrant, we shall resort to other ways, especially picketing and to enforce the law of the land. We all know that the constitution allows for freedom of association and nobody or employer should deny workers that fundamental human right,” he added.