By Gele Agbai
Workers of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC,) on Tuesday, locked the secretariat of the agency located at Area H, New Owerri, in the state capital to protest against alleged unpaid salaries.
The enraged workers also expressed displeasure over a slash in their salaries and vowed to ground the secretariat until their grievances were resolved.
They bore placards with various inscriptions depicting their anger and vowed not to return to work or allow anyone access into the secretariat until the state government meets their demands.
The workers barred the Managing Director, Chief Charles Orie, from gaining access into the secretariat.
The workers’ union chairman, Chinedu Awuzie, disclosed that their April and May, 2020, salaries were yet to be paid.
He regretted that the state government and the management of the interventionist agency had failed to listen to their demands.
He said “Government unlawfully took over the payment of our salaries, slashing same to 20% which has subjected the oil workers to untold hardship, suffering and death.
“The law that established ISOPADEC did not make it part of Imo Civil Service, to the effect that ISOPADEC workers are not pensionable, and therefore the government’s decision to pay them as such is questionable.”
Responding, the MD, Chief Charles Orie, said the problems enumerated by the workers predated his appointment.
He assured that the grievances would be addressed.
Orie asked the workers to return to work, and be law-abiding as they press home their demands, saying that the governor, Hope Uzodinma, would make them smile.
Also speaking, a source at the agency said the workers have been paid up-to-date. He however informed the State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, ordered the slashing of the salaries of the workers to be at par with those of civil servants.
The source who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the problem of some of the workers is their inability to repay bank loans following the abrupt salary slash.