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Published On: Thu, May 18th, 2017

Delta Council Workers Protest Shut Down Warri….NULGE Gives Okowa 21 Days Ultimatum

Council workers over non payment of salaries for thirteen months  on the streets of Warri and Effurun

Council workers over non payment of salaries for thirteen months on the streets of Warri and Effurun

LAGOS MAY 18TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Protesters drawn from Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, (NULGE), Delta State Chapter on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest which shut down activities in the oil city of Warri and its neighboring Effurun town.
The protest started around 8:30am at the Uvwie local government council secretariat, Effurun, from where the demonstrators went round major roads, down to the Effurun roundabout and moving to main streets of Warri, Delta State.
Major activities in this two cities were brought to stand still as business owners and offices closed for the day either in solidarity with the protesters or probably to prevent vandals from disrupting their businesses.
The protesters who chanted anti-government slogan, bore leaves and placards to press home their messages.
Some placards with different inscriptions bore by the protesters read, “Okowa You Are Wicked”, “Stop The Killing Of Council Workers”, “Pay Us Our 13 Months Salaries”, “Stop Stealing Local Government Fund” and “No Salary, No Okowa 2019” among others.
The slogans apparently stemmed from the controversy surrounding the failure of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to use the Paris Club Refund released to states by the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration to offset backlog of salaries owed the council workers.
“Can you imagine that in 13 months now council workers have not been paid, yet Okowa has the guts to be hosting town hall meetings…Okowa is a bad governor and he should be ready for us in 2019,” one of the protesters who did not want his names on print complained bitterly.
Report alleged that some of Council Chairmen were pressurized to sign a document indicating that a large part of the Paris Club Refund money had been released to them to pay workers in their respective local government areas.
“Some weeks back, the governor invited all the twenty-five local government areas chairmen to his office for a meeting. To our greatest surprise, the governor asked us to sign a document that he gave us money from the Paris Club Refund which we the council chairmen used to pay five months salaries arrears from the 8-13 months owed council workers,” one of the council chairmen who pleaded anonymity alleged.
“There is a conspiracy theory about the Paris Club refunds money in Delta State”, another council chairman from Delta North senatorial district of the state, alleged, stressing that the money must have been diverted and they have been trying to cover it up.
Continuing he alleged, “The meeting the Governor summoned when the money was released did not end well. We vehemently refused to sign the document showing how they expended the money because we did not know how it was spent, so why should we sign? All we got was money that could pay only a month salary.”
In another development, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Delta state chapter had issued a 21 day Ultimatum to the state government over the unpaid salaries of council workers.
NULGE, in a statement released by the State Secretary, Mr. Peter Ene, and made available to newsmen said, “ our members can no longer die in silence, endure the excruciating suffocation agonies resulting in their sudden death due to hunger and frustration.
“We reject the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries at the expense of the local government workers. Okowa should reinstate the N600 million augmentations for payment of primary school teachers’ salaries as it was done by former administrations in the state. Local government councils are tired of the whole things
“NULGE executive council resolved that the State Government should revert to the old order of uniform payment of both local government employees and primary schools teachers with the resources available.
“We also resolved that the state government should reinstate augmentation for payment of primary school teachers’ salaries because local government council cannot bear the burden alone.
“We will be left with no option than to invoke the instrument of industrial action. And we will declare a trade dispute after our 21-day ultimatum to the state government which started from Friday 5th May, 2017 within which all arrears of salaries ranging from 8-13 months should be paid or be ready to face industrial action.
“We shall organize mass protest rallies in the three senatorial districts within the 21-day ultimatum and the mother of all rallies shall hold in Asaba with our National President, civil society groups and Human Right activists attendance.”

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