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Strike: Asaba residents storm banks, markets

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Residents of Asaba and Okpanam in Delta on Monday besieged banks and the markets to collect money and store food ahead of Tuesday proposed nationwide strike by workers.

Following the deadlock between labour leaders and the Federal Government over minimum wage, the unions insisted on the indefinite strike.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) had on Wednesday sensitised the workers to the conflict between them and government and the need for indefinite strike from Tuesday.

NAN survey in Asaba revealed that most banks’ ATMs were emptied before noon as residents rushed to make quick withdrawals in order not to be caught unawares.

It was also noticed that the popular Ogbeogonogo Market along Nnebisi Road, experienced surge as the traders, particularly in the food stuff segments, faced difficulties attending to the teeming customers.

The dual carriage way leading to the market experienced a traffic gridlock from the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) end of the Nnebisi Road, a distance of more than two kilometres.

Some residents who spoke to NAN said that they did not want to be taken by surprise.

They recalled that they suffered during the recent warning strike by the workers, when they could not access money even through the ATM because banks were shut.

They, however, called on the Federal Government to pay workers the minimum wage, adding that N30, 000 being asked for by the workers was not too much.

Others, however, said that new wage being demanded by the workers may trigger price increase if government failed to take proactive measures to match the wage with production.

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Mr Stephen Onyisi, a civil servant, said the minimum wage was overdue for review and that what labour was asking for was not too much.

“I believe any government can pay the N30, 000 minimum wage without challenge.

“We labour and retire after 35 years or 60 years of age and at the end of the day, nothing to show for it.

“Imagine a government appointee and a politician – with a politician, just within four years, he will build many and befitting houses for himself, family and acquired so much money.

“But, anytime you talk about increasing workers’ salaries, they kick against it. This is terrible because they do not mean well for us,” he said.

Mr Hillary Ndubisi, a resident, lamented the ordeal people were currently passing through and called on the Federal and State Governments to, as a matter of urgency, implement the proposed minimum wage.

He advised government to make it possible for everybody, workers and politicians, to earn the same salary for a balance and to end the wage increase agitation since everyone is exposed to the same market.

“Just imagine the stress we are passing through now – traffic jam, the ATMs not responding.

“You have to move from one location to another before making withdrawals, all in the name of somebody not doing what he is supposed to do,” he said.

Mrs Theresa Nkemdi, a trader, told NAN that the rush to buy items, especially food, was high.

“I was told that the workers are going on strike because government refused to pay them their money.

“I am not happy because when they go on strike our children will not go to school and nobody will take care of them at home.

“We sell more anytime the workers receive their salary at the end of the month, so I support, let government pay them because when they get the money we also will sell our food items,” she said.

On the preparedness for the strike, the NLC Secretary in the state, Mr Innocent Ofuonyeadi, said workers in the state were ready and waiting to carry out directives by the national body.

 

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