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HomeTech NewsEverything we know about 16-month salary delay claims at Bloc

Everything we know about 16-month salary delay claims at Bloc

Benita Anuforo was contacted by Banking as a Service startup, Bloc in October 2022 to handle compliance for the fintech. She agreed and started work in November 2022.

“Discussions about slashing salaries by 40% came up two weeks after I started working for the company,” she told Techpoint Africa during a phone conversation.” “It was either that or the company went under.”

According to Anuforo, the company promised that the 40% of their salaries that were withheld from January 2023 to March 2023 due to a 60% salary slash would be paid in April.

“However, the 60% salary payment continued till October when I decided to leave the company,” she recalls.

She also noted that there were times when the 60% salary was delayed. For example, June’s salary came at the end of July while July, August, and September salaries came in October.

By the time Anuforo left in October 2023, she was owed ₦3.7 million, representing the 40% of her salary withheld from January to October 2023. Although she received ₦1 million, continued delays in receiving the remaining amount led her to call out the company and its CEO, Edmund Olotu, on social media.

In a statement to Techpoint Africa, Olotu confirmed that the company had indeed slashed salaries. “The management and staff decided in a town hall meeting to reduce salaries by 40% rather than letting go of 40% of the workforce,” he explained. “We decided on paying 60% salary and to roll over the 40% until a liquidity event.”

However, Olotu noted that this liquidity event has not yet occurred.

He also acknowledged a two-month delay in salary payments in 2023 but denied claims that Bloc owed salaries for 16 months. This denial was in response to a post by X user, TweetsByAmaka, which stated that Anuforo had an “outstanding salary of 2.74 million Naira, which has been pending for 16 months.”

In response to Oriaku’s post, some people shared that they had bad experiences working for Olotu, but they didn’t provide details with Techpoint Africa when we reached out to them.

The decision to slash salaries was made when the company ran out of “runway/funds” it raised from investors. Olotu said he decided to invest personal capital in the business, and the financial projections showed that the available funds needed to be stretched as long as possible.

The 40% rollover

According to Olotu’s statement, the payment of the 40% rollover did not have a specific timeframe, as it was dependent on a liquidity event, which hasn’t occurred yet.

In contrast, Anuforo stated that the payment was supposed to happen in April. While the 40% rollover remained unpaid, Anuforo also inquired about her August salary in September, expressing that she could not continue working with outstanding salaries.

However, with no one to handle her role, she says she resumed work after a three-day break.

Tensions began to grow when she was removed from the management Slack group by HR. Although she was told it was a mistake, she didn’t believe it and decided to leave the company.

“Clearly it wasn’t going to be a space I would be comfortable with,” she said.

According to Anuforo, she trained her replacement and left the company, still being owed the 40% rollover from January to October 2023.

This money which totalled ₦3.74 million is the bone of contention between Anuforo and Bloc.

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“I attempted to take legal action,” she told Techpoint Africa, “but the company agreed on a three-month payment plan where I would receive ₦1 million every month in February, March, and April, with the remaining balance of ₦742,695 to be paid in May.”

Anuforo confirms that she received ₦1 million in February 2024, but payments for March and April were missed. As of now, she has written a letter to Bloc through her lawyers to demand payment.

However, an accusation of spying on company accounts has also been levelled against Benita, in a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation attributed to Olotu.

Anuforo says there is no basis for the accusation other than the fact that she used to work for UBA.

“I inquired further about the claims and the question was deflected,” she claims.

While Olotu did not speak directly on the issues between Bloc and Anuforo, he said, “In some instances, for emergency reasons, a past or current staff member may ask for all or some of those funds. We try to oblige where we can based on the finances of the company.”

The issue has also called the company’s health into question, but Olotu maintains that “Bloc is a going concern and the company will make everyone whole soonest.”

Source

techpoint.africa

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