—————-By Shedrack Onitsha,——————
Council workers in Delta State under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) on Wednesday staged a protest over 13 months salary arrears owed council staff, the protest grounded activities in Warri and its environs.
The workers city-wide rally which held at Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state, was originally slated to hold at the Oghara township stadium but was shifted, after the state leadership of NULGE was prevailed upon to move it Effurun because of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Town Hall meeting holding at Oghara.
The workers while lamenting their plight stated that scores of members had died as a result of the non-payment of their salaries accused Okowa of been insensitive to their condition thereby making them and their families to suffer.
Speaking at the rally, the state NULGE chairman, Zico Okwudi, also accused the governor of betrayal and reneging on a gentleman’s agreement reached with the workers three months ago.
Recall that on assumption of office, Governor Okowa scraped the N500million state government monthly subvention to the 25 LGA to enable them pay primary school teacher’s salary which was introduced by the previous government.
The Governor has also said consistently that he does not owe local council workers because it’s not the state government business to pay council staff, since they also gets their allocation from the federation account.
When effort to persuade Governor Okowa to pay council workers from the Paris-club fund failed; the leadership of NULGE, Delta state chapter last week gave 21days ultimatum to Delta State Government to pay up a 13 months salaries arrears of its workers or face disruptive industrial action.
NULGE State Secretary, Comrade Peter Ene while expressing the Union’s displeasure to the state government insensitivity to their pains, said the Union can no longer endure the excruciating and suffocating pains and agonies being experienced by its members, which have caused the untimely death of many due to hunger, frustration and inability to pay medical bills.
The Union stated further that they reject the payment of Primary school teachers’ salaries at the expense of the Local Government workers, a situation that had caused a face-off between the State NUT and NULGE, culminating in teachers two weeks strike last month.