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Published On: Tue, Mar 25th, 2014

Suspected thugs attack, injure striking company workers in Owerri

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Thirteen members of staff of the Imo Transport Corporation (ITC), Owerri yesterday sustained various degrees of injuries following an attack by suspected thugs.

The workers, who had been on strike since March 17 over the non-payment of their seven months’ salaries, had blocked the two entrance gates of the company with red mud and coffins covered with white and red cloths.

The workers also carried placards with various messages containing their demands.

However, when the workers re-grouped to lay siege to the gate on Monday, scores of thugs armed with dangerous weapons including axes, machetes, bottles, clubs and locally-made guns forced them out of the gates.

An eye witness told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that fight broke out between the thugs and the workers which resulted in many people sustaining injuries.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the incident occurred between 8.30 a.m. and 10 a.m., adding that most people scampered to safety while the attack lasted.

“After the attack, the thugs, who were mainly young men, removed all the placards, burnt the two coffins and cleared the red mud and other items the workers blocked the gates with,’’ he said.

When NAN visited the company premises, some of its buses had started loading passengers for the first time since March 17.

Mr Emeka Okoroh, the Chairman of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), in the company, told NAN that 13 of his members were injured during the attack.

Okoroh said the attack came as a huge surprise, noting that none of the workers had any weapon on him or her.

“The union had last week agreed with the management that two months salaries of workers would be paid before March 22, while the modalities for the payment of the remaining five months are being worked out.

“Rather than pay the two months’ salaries, the management only paid one month and engaged thugs to attack the workers,’’ he said. (NAN)

Chied David Aliakor, the Assistant General Manager, Human Resources at ITC, who spoke in a telephone interview, declined to comment on any of the issues.

He said that some of the issues raised were policy matters.

“I can only tell you that I am still in my village as we speak, but was informed that ITC has resumed work today.

“How that was made possible, it is only my managing director who can comment on the matter,’’ Aliakor said. (NAN)

 

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