By Emmanuel Nduka
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and contracted cleaners on Tuesday engaged in a face-off over eight months unpaid salaries, which left one of the cleaners with a badly injured leg.
The incident which happened at the NNPC Zonal Office, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was the aftermath of a two-day sit-at-home protest by the cleaners, who could no longer cope with the hardship occasioned by the non-payment of their salaries.
The cleaners had went on a two-day sit-at-home protest, citing that they no longer had money to pay transport to work. They however resumed on the third day after their protest, only to be violently refused entry into the office premises.
Eye witnesses told THE HERITAGE TIMES that the incident would later turn violent, as confrontation led to an assault on one of the cleaners (Promise) whose leg was deliberately hit with a vehicle by one of the NNPC staff, and is currently hospitalized.
Meanwhile, the NNPC has been notorious with bad records of unpaid salaries. In 2020, Teachers at the NNPC Academy in Kaduna, Warri and Lagos, protested over unpaid salaries in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when people could barely survive.
Some of the teachers told The PUNCH that they had been facing tough times as a result of being unable to get their salaries.
While some of the contract teachers said they stopped paying them salaries since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the country, another said she was being owed 21 months’ salaries. It was also gathered that the contract teachers were employed through various contractors in Kaduna, Lagos and Warri.
The teachers, who insisted that their names should not be mentioned, explained that they had faced harassment from their landlords on several occasions for being unable to pay their rents. “In one of the branches, if you count up to March of this year, it is going to be two years that we have been owed,” one of them testified.
Similarly, in August 2020, NNPC Pipeline Surveillance Contractors protested non-payment of 10 months’ salary arrears by UTM Offshore Limited, an NNPC contractor in Enugu State.
The Security Guards Contractors that monitors from Ishiagu Ebonyi State to Emene, Enugu State Petroleum pipeline, carrying placards with various inscriptions, chanted, “NNPC pay us our 10 months’ salary arrears; our children are dying of hunger while we are working day and night,” as they matched to the Emene NNPC Depot.