Indorama denies abandoning injured contract staff
By: Felix Barikui
Indorama Fertilizer Limited (IFL) has denied claims by Mr. David Depreye, an employee of SPEO Nigeria Limited, a service contracting firm with Indorama, that he has been abandoned by the company after suffering injuries as a result of working for the firm.
Mr. Depreye on Wednesday, 31st January 2024, addressed some journalists where he alleged that after suffering a workplace accident in 2020, Indorama failed to provide him with medical support to help him recover from the injuries.
He also demanded monetary compensation from the company to the tune of Eight Million Naira.
However, Indorama has described the allegations as false and contrary to the true position of the matter.
Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, Head, of Corporate Communications, Indorama -Nigeria at a press briefing said the company has been directly involved in sponsoring the medical bills of Mr. Depreye while his salaries are being paid in full since he sustained the injury.
“On 23rd December, 2020, Mr. Depreye, a Masher employed by SPEO Nigeria Limited and deployed to Indorama bulk loading bay, sustained injury on his two legs while at work in IFL complex. Indorama responded immediately by providing first aid medical treatment at the company’s clinic within the complex. He was thereafter transferred at the expense of Indorama to SPEO retainer hospital – Rehoboth Medical Service Hospital – where orthopedic medication was administered,” Dr. Nkwocha said.
The Indorama Corporate Communication’s Head narrated the intricacies surrounding the matter.
“Since SPEO was at the time of the accident not registered with the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), he could not avail himself of the benefits accruable to an employee who suffered a workplace accident as provided under the Employee Compensation Act.
“Consequently, on compassionate grounds, Indorama took over the medical bills of Mr. Depreye and ensured that he is kept on the payroll until this moment. In other words, his salary has been paid up to date.
“After being hospitalized for over a year at which time he went through corrective surgery on the legs at the expense of his employer SPEO and Indorama, he was eventually discharged but continued treatment on an outpatient basis.
“This was the situation when in March 2023 Mr. Depreye filed a lawsuit at the National Industrial Court Port Harcourt requesting the Court for firstly an order compelling his employer SPEO and Indorama to provide proper medical attention to his fractured leg and secondly to pay a total sum of Eight Million Naira (N8m) as compensation plus Five Hundred Thousand Naira (#500,000) as Legal Fees,” he said.
“Upon being served with the court process, we invited Mr. Depreye and his lawyer to a meeting to resolve the matter amicably. In attendance was the Managing Director of SPEO and his lawyer. At that meeting on 19th April 2023 it was observed that there was a need to have further treatment to correct the surgery earlier conducted by Rehoboth Medical Service Hospital. The Claimant and SPEO identified the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) as the hospital where the corrective surgery will be carried out.
“It was also agreed that the Claimant, his lawyer together with SPEO’s MD, and his Lawyer should go to the UPTH for medical appraisal and obtain the cost implication of the final surgery. They reported back at a second meeting in the complex that the total cost of corrective surgery would be about One Million Nine Hundred Thousand Naira (#1.9m)” he explained.
Dr. Nkwocha noted that at this stage, the claimant, Mr. Depreye said he does not want surgery anymore but traditional treatment in his village and that the money for treatment and compensation should be handed over to him and demanded Twelve Million Naira (#12m) in full and final settlement of all claims against the #8m he was requesting the court to grant him.
He stressed that although Indorama is not the direct employee of Mr. Depreye and therefore not ordinarily liable for his treatment, the company offered to pay him Five Million Naira (#5m) in full and final settlement of all claims but he refused, threatening that ‘we shall meet in court’.
The Indorama Corporate Communication’s Head disclosed further that when the suit came up on 24th October 2023, the claimant’s lawyer informed the court that the parties were exploring out of court settlement and applied for an adjournment to enable the parties conclude while the case was adjourned to 4th December, 2023. On that day, the Judge informed the court of his transfer from Port Harcourt and that the case would be assigned to a new Judge.
He said it was against the background that Mr. Depreye rushed to the press to make spurious allegations against the company to tarnish the hard earned reputation of Indorama.
Dr. Nkwocha added: “It is necessary to highlight the fact that Mr. Depreye is neither on medical leave nor currently hospitalized. The medical reports have not shown that he is unfit for work. Yet, since his discharge from hospital over a year ago, he has refused to turn up at the Indorama Complex for work while Indorama has for three years since the accident, continued to pay his salary and allowances till date.
“Notwithstanding this umbrage, Indorama, on compassionate ground has invited Mr. Depreye and his lawyer to a meeting scheduled for Monday 5th February 2024 in the continuing search for an amicable resolution”.