By Elo Edremoda, Warri
Disengaged workers of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) in Warri, Delta State, have called on the Minister for Transport Rotimi Amaechi and NPA Managing Director Hadiza Bala Usman, to pay their delayed severance package.
The workers, under the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), protested at the entrance of the New NPA in Warri. They threatened to ground activities at the ports if their call is not heeded.
They carried placards with inscriptions like “Warri Port please pay us our severance package, other ports have received theirs since January”; “NPA, why have you not paid our severance package?”.
The protesters, which comprised tally clerks and onboard security operatives, were disengaged in 2015 after a verification exercise. But while their colleagues in other ports had been paid, those in Warri have yet to receive theirs.
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Their spokesman Francis Agbudumhe lamented that their unpaid benefits was having a bad effect on members, some of whom are now sick or dead.
He said: “We have lost a lot of our members, some of them are bedridden; many of us have no homes, our children can no longer go to school, money lenders are chasing us here and there.
“We are heavily indebted. Even the money we are expected to get can’t solve any problem after this delay. But we need that money it’s our right.”
Agbudumhe stressed the need for relevant authorities to act before the committee set up to carry out the payment is dissolved.
“This is not a strike, it’s a peaceful protest so that we will get our money to settle our family needs this December. We will not stop until we get that money this December. It will not go beyond December. We will stay put here until we get answers.
“This is NPA facility, they can hear us, they can see us. We are asking NPA to do the needful and give that money out to the committee set up to do the payment.
“Before you know it, that committee will be dissolved because the year is ending and once that committee is dissolved, they will not come together until next year, and we don’t want to lose anybody again.
“We will remain here until they listen to us. If they refuse to listen, operations of the port will be shut down.”