COVID-19 crisis: Top Rank Hotel disengages over 100 staff

Top Rank Hotel located at the Area 11 part of Abuja, the Nigerian capital city has disengaged over 100 of its workers as a result of the COVID-19 economic crisis MAWA FOUNDATION has learned.

A senior staff of the hotel while recounting how COVID-19 has adversely affected the hotel told MAWA FOUNDATION that they had over 200 staff before the pandemic, but now has below 60 as a result of the economic crisis the pandemic threw at them.

“Before the pandemic, Top Rank hotel had over 200 staff, but since the pandemic, we are finding it very difficult to keep below 60 staff capacity”, a senior official told MAWA.

He added that despite disengaging a huge number of workers, the hotel was forced to reduce staff salary by 60%. This is even as he said the hotel before the pandemic, made N24 million monthly, but since the pandemic, it struggles to make N10 million every month.

“Before the COVID-19, Top Rank Hotel made N24 million monthly, but since the pandemic began, we now struggle to make N10 million every month,” the official told MAWA.

A former staff of Top Rank Hotel, who spoke to MAWA and did not want his identity revealed, narrated how workers were forced to sleep at the office for a week because the salary paid to them was not enough to cover their transport going home every day.

He, however, added that they were disengaged without any form of compensation. This is even as he pointed out that the hotel did not officially give the disengaged staff sacked letters, but stopped paying their salaries which forced many of them to leave and start looking for job in other places.

“Life was hell when I got disengaged by the Top Rank Hotel as a result of COVID-19, then my daughter was just seven months, I could not afford N50 to buy her pap, it was a difficult and painful experience for me,” he told MAWA.

Top Rank hotel reduction of workers’ salary is not allowed within Nigeria’s Labour Act, a legislation that regulates the relationship between the employers and employees. The Act does not allow employers to deduct employees’ salary for any reason whatsoever unless reasonable deduction for injury/loss caused to the employer by the employee.

However, the Nigerian experience has shown that despite the existence of labour law, employers often violate the legislation while many employees do not get justice.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) that has the mandate to protect the rights, privileges, and welfare of the workers has not lived up to this expectation as many workers are undergoing different kinds of breach from their employers with many of them not having viable options on how to pursue justice.

This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA

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