Workers shut down the state-owned Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) and the Asaba-Benin-Onitsha Expressway on Monday over recent sackings and the non-payment of up to eight months’ worth of salaries and entitlements.
The protesters, organized under the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), stormed the Delta Line company’s office at 8:00 a.m. on Monday. They locked the company’s gate and barricaded the busy expressway, creating a traffic gridlock that lasted for hours.
In August, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa sold the state-owned Delta Line to God Is Good Motors Limited for N161 million after rejecting the N2 billion offer by the Nigeria Labour Congress Delta State chapter, thereby dismissing 730 workers without compensation.
Marching with placards, the workers demanded the payment of their salaries, gratuities and entitlements.
They vowed to resist the takeover of the company by God Is Good Motors until their demands were met.
“The management of God Is Good Motors Limited called us to Lagos for a meeting and the chairman of God is Good Motors, Mr. Chidi Ajaere, made a pronouncement that all the workers of Delta Line have been sacked. He said everybody should re-apply except those above 40 years of age. We also confronted him about our eight months’ salaries and all entitlements.
“After insulting us, God Is Good chairman Mr. Chidi Ajaere told us that our eight months’ salaries and entitlements were not part of the deal he had with Governor Okowa and directed us to meet our governor. He also told us that even in the memorandum of understanding he signed with the governor last month, nothing of such was mentioned,” a worker who attended the meeting told SaharaReporters during the protest.
After a few hours into the protest, the Secretary to the State Government, Festus Ovie Agas, sent emissaries to the protesters to arrange a meeting in his office, but the protesters rebuffed the meeting.
The protest began to take a violent turn as some workers set the company’s security office ablaze. Anti-riot police officers were then deployed to the scene and began to fire gas canisters into the air, causing the protesters to disperse.