The ongoing industrial action in Ondo State took another dimension on Thursday as workers staged a peaceful protest over non-payment of their five months’ salaries.
The protesters, who stormed NEPA Junction in Akure, the state capital in their hundreds as early as 8.am, were led by the leadership of Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and Trade Union Congress [TUC].
They were busy signing anti-government songs as the protest lasted for four hours.
Some of them carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Mimiko pay our salary, ‘we can’t feed our families, ‘workers are dying of hunger, ‘Ise Pupo, Iya repete,” among others.
But while their protest was going on, Governor Olusegun Mimiko with some members of his cabinet were busy packing heap of refuse abandoned on major streets in Akure.
Since the workers’ strike, the major streets of Akure like Oba-Adesida/Oyemekun, Arakale and Ondo roads have been littered with dirts, as workers at the State Waste Management Board have also gone on strike.
It took the frantic efforts of a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress [APC], Mr. Olaoluwa Adeyeye, who engaged some youths last Saturday the wastes were cleared from the major streets.
Before the APC chieftain cleared the mess, there were already fear in the minds of the residents that the development may lead to the outbreak of epidemic.
However, Mimiko was personally seen using spade to pack the heap of waste inside a truck at Oja-Oba area.
It was gathered that the governor was worried over the ongoing strike and he had pleaded with the union leaders to exclude workers at the health sector, teachers and waste management board staff from the industrial action.
But his demand was said to have yielded no positive response from the labour leaders as they insist they would not return to work until they are paid.
Mimiko took the opportunity to address some traders at Oja Oba market and lamented over the dwindling federal government allocations being received by the state.
He stressed the need for workers to show understanding with government on the need to return to their duty post in the interest of development.
Unknown to the workers that the governor had gone on an environmental exercise, they marched from NEPA junction to the Government House at Alagbaka with the intention to prevent the governor from going to his office.