Posted by News Express | 17 August 2016 | 1,962 times
Scores of thugs on Tuesday in Yenagoa attacked protesters drawn from the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) who were demanding arrears of their salaries and alleging diversion of federal government's bailout fund in Bayelsa State.
The thugs are believed to be hired by the local government chairmen who are indebted to their workers. Bayelsa State government had assisted the local government councils earlier in the year to offset salary arrears owed council workers.
The thugs resorted to violence as they manhandled the protesting workers, and journalists who were covering the protest.
Local government workers in the state are currently owed between five and seven months’ salary arrears despite the fact that the state government obtained the federal government bailout funds meant to offset salaries owed workers in the state.
In a statement issued after the protest, the joint Council of NULGE and MHWUN said their action was in line with the struggle to improve the welfare of members in the state.
The statement was signed by Mr. Tonye Jaja for NULGE and Mr. Arafat Nwibani for MHWUN.
“We are demanding that the affected Chairmen of Councils and Commissioner for Local Government should immediately pay workers of the affected council areas from the bailout fund to avoid unpleasant consequences and sustain the peaceful industrial atmosphere in the system.
“We unequivocally demand for the full payment of the salary of March; we demand the release of LGAs allocations to the councils immediately,” the statement stated.
Several journalists were beaten up by the thugs with some sustaining injuries and losing their valuables including cash and gadgets.
One of the victim, Mr. John Odhe, reporter with the state owned newspaper, New Wave said, his experience was a horrible one. “It was like a movie as the thugs descended on us and started manhandling us with planks and stones; I managed to escape,” Odhe said.
•Photo shows Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson.
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