Staffers of Harmony Express popularly known as ‘Kwara Express’ on Tuesday embarked on indefinite strike over alleged imposition of the former suspended Managing Director, Alhaji Salaudeen Funsho by the management of Harmony Holdings Limited (HHL).
The former MD, Accountant and Cashier of the organisation were suspended in July over alleged misappropriation of funds running to the tune of N8,029,015.00, among other lingering issues.
It was learnt that the meeting between management of Harmony Holdings Limited and members of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) of the company over the issue ended in deadlock.
When our reporter visited the office along Offa Garage road, Ilorin, three police vans were seen stationed at strategic points.
It was learnt that passengers who were billed to travel to various destinations with the company buses and had booked ahead, were refunded their money by the management.
Speaking on the development, the state Chairman of AUPCTRE, Engr. Michael Bamidele alleged that the former boss of the company misapplied funds.
He said, “We have lingering problems here such as pencom deduction, tax deduction, cooperative deduction, lack of TIB debt repayment, abandoned vehicles, tyre debt, harmony trust debt, insurance debt, which the former MD was not able to remit running into millions of naira.
“And when HHL management constituted a board and carried out audit of the Harmony Express it was discovered that fund was misappropriated to the tune of N8million. This led to the indefinite suspension of the MD, Accountant and the cashier since August 2018, for further investigation.
He called for the continued stay in office of the acting managing director of the company, who he said has performed well since taking charge of affairs of the Harmony Express.
“The HHL management appointed an Acting Managing Director, Mr. Taiwo Fadipe who was able to clear most of these outstanding and repaired eight buses. He also paid most of the debt we owed the bank and staff arrears. So we are satisfied with his performance.
“Just yesterday (Monday), the former MD came with a letter from HHL to resume work with about 20 thugs to compulsorily takeover. As law abiding citizens, we warned our workers not to engage them as there was no former notification to us.
“Today we have decided to embark on indefinite strike to declare our intention known to HHL and Kwara State government that we can’t work with Alhaji Salaudeen because of his poor performance. We’re comfortable with the acting MD.”
In his reaction, the Group Managing Director of HHL, Dr. Shehu Kuranga Mohammed called on the union to employ diplomatic approach to resolve the lingering issue.
He said, “When I resumed as the GMD of HHL I discovered that the company has acting MD, I made inquiry and was told that the former MD was on suspension over misappropriation of funds allegations.
“I requested for the file and I discovered that the former board carried out an investigation and discovered that the MD and the accountant were not culprit in the misappropriation.
“The person who was guilty has accepted and written to HHL that he embezzled the funds alone. So I felt it was unfair to still keep them on suspension and I drew the attention of the chairman of the board who confirmed to me that the former board has exonerated the two of them and we decided to recall them,” he explained.
The GMD noted that the workers cannot decide who manages affairs of the company.
He added, “We are giving them the opportunity to resume work by tomorrow (Wednesday) considering the peak period of the Christmas festival and if they fail to cooperate we will assume that they have resigned their appointment.”