By Andy Esiet, Calabar
As the strike action by the organised labour in Cross River state comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Joint Public Negotiating Council (JNC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) entered its 10th day today, Women Street Sweepers yesterday took to the streets demanding payment of their six months salary.
The women who started the protest on Monday with a match to the governor’s office chanting “Ayade pay us our salary, hunger will kill us please pay us” continued yesterday carrying fresh leaves along Marian road, Mural Mohammed highway saying they are being owed salaries range between N8,000 to N15,000 per month.
Yesterday roads were barricaded with logs of woods as they poured waste on the road in protest while chanting protest songs saying it was unfortunate that the state government has turned deaf ears to their plight despite several pleas.
One of the protesting women who gave her name as Eno said, “this government is wicked. You can see how we suffer on daily basis sweeping the streets clean yet the government has the mind to owe us. Some of us are widows and it is from this small money that we feed and send our children to school” .
Another woman who simply gave her name as Madam Iquo said, “many of them are really suffering over the meager salary as some of us get as low as N8,000 and we are being owed for six months.
“It is not the best of jobs but we still do it with joy ,why are we still being owed for as much as 6 months especially at this time that things are very hard in the country.We know that the government is releasing money but we are not getting it , unless there is something they are not telling us , because we go through hell while doing our job many of us are being raped in the early hours especially where there are no street lights ,it is sad”.
The Executive Secretary of Calabar Urban Development Agency (CUDA), Mr. Joe-Mary Ekeng said his office was not in charge and said Ministry of Environment should know better and when the Commissioner Mfon Bassey was contacted he declined comment.
Meanwhile the Organized Labour in the state have warned Directors in the State Civil Service not to be the ones to be used by government to break the strike as they were desperate to ensure that the industrial action which is 10 days today was stopped by every means without proper negotiations.
Labour advised all Directors not to attend such a meeting stressing that it was a trap and a ploy to break the strike saying, the government is a government with no conscience and”Instead of settling our demands ,the government of Prof. Ben Ayade is rather shopping for a court order to truncate the ongoing strike action.
“Comrades , discontinuance any directives from any person from the stare government ,not even a court order can break our determination to get justice from the government We cannot be slaves in our state ,don’t pay attention to any directives from anyone in government continue to stay at home until you hear from us”.