By CrossRiverWatch admin
The Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has sacked about 250 women who sweep roads in Calabar metropolis for asking for their ten months salary arrears.
Findings by CrossRiverWatch reveal that the sack was occasioned by an impromptu protest by the aggrieved women who trekked to catch up with the governor while inspecting the garment factory with his guests on Monday 9th May, 2016.
CrossRiverWatch reliably gathered that the governor asked the women out, a directive that was immediately effected by his security personnel while he interacted with the leader of the women.
The women were said to have decided to meet the governor at the garment factory because of their failure to see him in the office after repeated visits which have seen them driven away from the government house gate each time they call.
Some of the women who spoke to our reporter say the governor apologized for the delay and the pain it may have caused them and ordered that they be paid six months.
“After Ayade ordered the Commissioner of Environment to pay six months, he rather paid two months and told us we have been sacked.
“He told us he can only pay three months because there is no money. When voucher was raised, some of us couldn’t find our name which is not supposed to be so and 36 alone were to be paid because that was the attendance in the airport but we are about 250 CB PRO staffs.
“Later on, we were told that we can only collect two months from our present arears. Nothing about that of last year. And also that we have been sacked and should not come to work again.” The tearful old woman told this reporter.
Another woman who spoke revealed that, “Amongst us, some were not paid January salary because there were issues; when January pay came, some were said to have signed and collected but it is all lies and attempts to eat our money, we know ourselves, there is no way one can sign and collect where she doesn’t belong, till date no voucher has been shown to us as prove that these women actually signed and collected January salary making it eleven months for those in this category but those also in this group who have collected the two months’ pay on Monday will be left with 9 months but those who collected January will be left with 8 months.”
While lamenting their condition, they revealed that they are passing through hardship ranging from health issues to inability to pay their rents, children school fees, feed their homes as well as pay other utility bills.
One said, “We were asked to work till 4pm and we have been doing so for long, we don’t have resting point, we don’t have any toiletry point where we can easily wash up after sweeping and most of all no medical support program for us like NHIS and Roll Back Malaria project, no immediate first aid, we have lost a lot of our colleagues to death arising from sweeping roads and we don’t have any insurance which is very bad, but the roads and other places which makes the State the cleanest city is by our sweat, look at how eczema and other skin disease are eating us because we can’t clean up after sweeping for hours.”
With another quickly interrupting and recalling a woman who was sacked sometime ago by the Commissioner for Environment for lying down to rest after sweeping for hours, “him no even allow us talk he just sack the woman begin call am and us lazy people. We no dey rest at all, we go comot for house come dey sweep road 5am and we go stay till 4pm, so when we wan go take care of our children and do house work? All of us na women and we get children” she queries.
The women said there are willing to accept their disengagement but they need their hard earned money vowing that they will fast and pray and lay causes on those behind their predicament if nothing is done within reasonable time.
When CrossRiverWatch contacted the Commissioner of Environment, Engineer Mike Eraye to comment on the development, he said, “They are not CUDA women they are staff of a contractor that worked for government before now, CB PRO. That contract was, I think terminated September 13th before I got here. They misrepresented the position to the governor at the garment factory, they lied, I took them on and brought CUDA staff to identify them, they worked for the contractor, what they were protesting about has to do with the job at CB PRO.”
When informed that CB PRO contractors are not able to pay because they alleged that government has also not paid them their accumulated bills, and the effort government was making to resolve the impasse, he said: “I wish I have another five minutes to talk with you because the governor gave me an assignment. I wish I have time to share with you the steps I have taken to resolve that issue and efforts I have taken to cushion the problems arising from that contract, can I do that another day because I have urgent issues at hand.”
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