Lagos street sweepers under the “Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI)” of the Lagos State Government, on Wednesday protested their delayed salaries and merger with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
The protesters, who were chanting various solidarity songs at the Alausa Secretariat, barricaded the road and urged Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to intervene in ameliorating their suffering.
The distraught workers said that they would prefer to go back to the status quo prior to three months ago, before they were transferred to LAWMA.
One of the aggrieved workers, Mrs Kehinde Egbetola, said that it was unfortunate that the salaries being given to the workers was always delayed for about one month before payment. “We don’t have tools to work with; our colleagues are dying; we don’t have health insurance, pensions and so many other things that could have been of benefit to us”.
She then added: “We are not illiterates, some of us are graduates. We are paid salaries after 20 days of the following month. So, when the month ends, we will start begging people for money. I took this job because of unemployment to keep body and soul together but the suffering is too much,”
“Also, we don’t want to be merged with LAWMA because LAWMA is fond of enslaving workers. We were employed by the state government under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative. We are appealing to the government to regularize our appointment. At least, we are government workers, we should be given our Oracle numbers and ID cards to show that we are members of staff of the government,” she said.
Mrs Bose Osinowo, another protester, claimed that several workers had been killed by vehicles, while working on the roadside, without any help from the government, saying that their salaries were usually delayed.
Osinowo said: “Please, tell the government that we don’t want LAWMA. We were told to drop our green overall uniform for the pink uniform of LAWMA before we will be paid. We don’t want to work on Sundays, we also want to observe all public holidays. We want to be staffed. We want our money increased from N18, 500 rather than the proposed reduction to N12,000 by LAWMA.’’
Mrs Kudirat Agboola, said that the initial intention of the workers was to protest the death of one of the staff who was killed last month by a hit and run driver. “We want the government to take care of the six children the deceased worker left behind. We don’t want LAWMA,’’ Agboola said.
Mr Ibrahim Kajola, noted that the workload of the few employed staff was much, lamented that LAWMA neglected workers, who protested the death of two cleaners who died recently while on duty.
Mrs Oluwatobiloba Olatunji alleged that LAWMA was planning to reduce their salaries from N18,500 to N12,000. She also claimed that LAWMA had the habit of deducting their salaries anytime anyone was absent from work even for genuine reasons. “We prefer our working conditions under Visionscape. We have really been suffering since LAWMA inherited us; unlike what used to happen in the past,’’ she said.
The protesters unanimously demanded for an increase rather than reduction in salaries and revealed that LAWMA had concluded plans to reduce the number of workers employed under the scheme.
The protesters were not allowed into the governors office premises and they were not addressed by any government official before they left.