The 281 disengaged contract staff of the Cross River Water Board Ltd. on Monday paralysed activities at the office headquarters in Calabar over unpaid salary arrears.
The protesting staff members occupied the main entrance of the water board to demand for payment of their 12 months’ salary arrears, thereby preventing movement in and out of the agency.
They carried different placards some read: “Every labourer deserves his wages”, “We heard that secret payments are being made to our colleagues”, “Gov. Ben Ayade has approved our payment amongst others”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the protesters caused gridlock along the Marian highway in Calabar.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting staff, Ogar Kelly, said that they were disengaged in Oct. 31, 2017 without a duly notified letter.
He said the agency had not paid them for the past 12 months, and that life has not been easy with them.
Kelly said: “We have not been paid from October 2016 to October 2017 before were disengaged.
“About 281 of us were not given disengagement letter; we only saw our names on the notice board that we have been sacked from work.
“Actually, we were engaged during the administration of the former Managing Director, Dr Godwin Igile.
“After the former MD left, the new Acting MD, Dr Stephen Odey, came in and helped us to meet with the governor.
“At that meeting, the governor promised to release N253 million to clear the debt of the disengaged and contract staff in the agency.
“We were very surprised that after the governor released the money, the present Acting MD said he was not going to attend to the disengaged staff since he was not the one that engaged them.
“This is not what the governor said initially because the money was released to pay both contract and engaged staff that were disengaged by the board in 2016.”
Kelly appealed to the management of the agency to be sincere by paying them all their entitlements.
Responding, Odey told NAN in a telephone interview that the protesting staff members were engaged illegally by the former MD.
Odey said: “The 500 staff that I received when I came on board have been regularised and paid all their outstanding salaries.
“There were mass irregularities when the disengaged contract staff came into the board.
“Those with Diploma were paid N100,000 while those with Higher Diploma were paid N40,000. We have to look into all these irregularities carefully.
“In the next two weeks, I will look at all their certificates and screen them before taking the next line of action.”