Aggrieved workers of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) have shut down the premises as they protested non-payment of eight months salaries and entitlements.
Few hours into the protest, the secretary to the state government, Mr. Festus Agas, sent some emissaries to the protesters for a meeting in his office but the workers refused to attend the meeting.
The protest at a stage turned violent as workers set the company’s security office ablaze and thereafter barricaded the Asaba-Benin-Onitsha express way as the ugly development prompted forced anti-riot policemen to start shooting tear gas canisters into the air to disperse the protesters.
The placard carrying protesting workers under the aegis of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), besieged the company head office along the Asaba-Onitsha express way at about 8:30 am on Monday and locked the company’s gate.
The operation lasted for hours as the workers refused to leave the premises, saying “all we need is our salaries.”
Governor Okowa had in August this year allegedly sold the state owned Delta Transport Service Limited (Delta Line) to a famous motor company, God Is Good Motors Limited, at the cost of N161 million.
This was after the alleged rejection of the N2billion offer by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta state chapter, leading to the disengagement of no fewer than 730 workers of the company without compensations.
The workers carried different placards with inscriptions: “Okowa You Are Inhuman, Pay Us Our Eight Months Salaries,”, “Okowa Pay Us Our Gratuities, Pay Us Our Entitlements.”, “Ibru Did Not Sell, Ibori Did Not Sell, Uduaghan Did Not Sell, Okowa Don’t Sell Delta Line.”
“God Is Good Must Not Resume In Delta Line”, “Okowa Deltans Say No To Second Tenure”, “Delta Line Is Viable” and “Okowa You Are A Failure” among others.
While calling for the immediate payment of their eight months salaries, gratuities and all entitlements, vowed to resist the takeover of the company by the management of the God Is Good Motors until their demands were met.
According to them, “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 reapply 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 MoU he signed with the governor last month in government house in Asaba nothing of such was mentioned”, a worker who attended the meeting told our correspondent during the protest.
It would be recalled that last month, pensioners under the “Association of Contributory Retirees Delta State chapter”, protested to Government House, Asaba, over non implementation of agreement entered with the federal government, non-payment of other entitlements by the Okowa-led administration.