Recession: Newspaper Converts 70% Staff To Freelancers

Sam Nda-Isaiah, Chairman of Leadership Newspaper Group
Sam Nda-Isaiah, Chairman of Leadership Newspaper Group

By Obiejesi Kingsley

About 70 percent of the editorial staff of the Leadership Newspaper Group has been converted to freelancers following the paper’s inability to pay more than one year salary arrears.

On September 28, members resumed work and were served shocking letters of conversion of their services from full time staff to freelancers beginning from October 1, 2016.

ICIR learnt the development did not go down well with the affected staff members as most of them have struggled financially due to inability of the national newspaper to pay it workers.

Reports also indicated that uneasy calm has greeted the development in the company as several of the staff remained in a state of confusion after receiving their letters.

The exercise also included State correspondents and reporters across the 36 states of the country.

It will be recalled that Leadership Newspapers Group has been facing financial challenges leading to its inability to pay salaries of staff for months leaving those working in the outfit to find other sources of income to sustain their operations.

Many of the Journalists affected could not understand the rationale behind the decision to remove them from the regular payroll of the media outfit. Sources within the newspaper house indicated that the decision was taken to reduce the liability of the company after failing for months to pay salaries.

A copy of the letter issued by the newspaper read in part: “As part of the on-going reorganisation of the company to reposition it on the path of progress in the face of the mounting economic challenge in the country, it has become necessary to change the status of some staff members.

“Management has decided to change the status of your employment from regular staff to Freelance, with effect from October 1, 2016.

“In this new status, you will keep your beats and perform your normal duties, as your ID Card will not be retrieved from you.

“As regards your outstanding salaries, concerted efforts are being made to pay off all the backlogs as soon as possible.

“Management wishes to deeply appreciate your various contributions to the company and looks forward to reabsorbing you as regular staff as soon as the fortune of the company improves”.

Sources within the company had informed ICIR that the publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah, a former Presidential aspirant, had wished to reduce the company’s wage bill which is said to be close to N30 million monthly.






     

     

    It was also learnt that an earlier decision by the publisher to cut down the staff strength of the struggling media outfit, was dropped for fear of litigations that may arise as a result of the unpaid salary arrears.

    Some of the affected Journalists are said to be uncomfortable with their new status as they fear their salaries may never be paid them.

    Leadership Newspapers in 2015 converted all its advert executives to freelancers on the same assurance that their backlogs of salaries will be paid soon but they are yet to be  paid one year after.

    Some of the staff also expressed worries that their conversion to freelancers is a ploy by the management to ease them out of the company without paying their salaries and other entitlements.

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