US company hoists Nigerian flag in Illinois to honour employee

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An American multinational company, Stericycle Inc., recently hoisted the Nigerian flag in honour of a hardworking new employee, Mrs Omolanke Shelle.

Thirty eight years old Shelle, an indigene of Ekiti, Western Nigeria, works at the company’s facility in Aurora, Illinois, where the Green-White-Green was raised in April.

This came barely a month after Stericycle gave the mother of three a full-time job on March 17, following the expiration of her temporary employment that lasted for about five months.

Her supervisor, Mr John Katchka, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Shelle was honoured on account of her “attitude, work ethic, ability to learn and team spirit’’.

“Ms Shelle came to us via a temporary employment agency during our busy season,’’ Katchka said in a written response to NAN’s inquiry.

“We were impressed by her attitude, work ethic, ability to learn and team spirit. When her (temporary) assignment ended; we offered her full-time employment, which she accepted,’’ it stated.

A short video of the flag raising ceremony, which has been circulating on social media, caught the attention of Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.

On July 9, Dabiri-Erewa retweeted the video posted by a broadcast journalist, AbdulRasheed Abubakar, with the comment: “Big congrats. #Proudly Nigerian’’.

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Abubakar, on his part, wrote: “Nigerians are not criminals. A big congratulations to Lanke Shelle for making Nigeria proud in the Diaspora.’’

Shelle told NAN on phone that she started working with Stericycle through a temporary employment agency when she moved to the U.S. with her family in 2015.

“When we came to the U.S., I had to work to assist my husband with the bills; besides I want to return to school, so I need money.

“As a temporary staff, I was supposed to work for eight and half hours from 7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., but I begged them for overtime, which they granted.

“This saw me working for 12 hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on week days and six hours most Saturdays, and I was being paid about 11 dollars per hour,’’ she said.

Checks by NAN revealed that Illinois and federal labour regulations do not limit the number of hours employees are permitted to work in a day or week.

But the state requires employers to give workers no fewer than 24 hours off in each calendar week.

Shelle, who said she was the only African working at the Aurora centre, added that the Nigerian flag was still hoisting as at the time of filing this report on Saturday morning.

Katchka explained that flag raising was a tradition introduced by the company since 2008 to honour the `birthplace and heritage’ of worthy new team members.

Stericycle is an environmental and regulated waste management company, with specialty in the collection and disposal of medical, pharmaceutical and hazardous wastes.

It also provides services for recalled and expired goods, in addition to provision of related education, training and patient communication services.

Founded in 1989 and with its headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois, Stericycle, has many operational bases around the world, including toxic waste incinerators in Utah and North Carolina, U.S. (NAN)