Anthony Asuquo, Uyo
There was palpable tension Thursday at the Federal Science and Technical College in Akwa Ibom State, as workers of the institution took to the streets to protest the school principal’s alleged refusal to pay the death benefits of their deceased colleagues.
The protesters said they were angry because the school principal, Mrs Pauline Etoamaihe preferred throwing birthday parties for her friends to paying benefits to families of workers who died during active service.
According to the workers, their deceased colleagues lost their lives between June and July in a gas fire explosion in the school’s kitchen.
Federal Council Chairman, Nigeria Civil Service Union, Akwa Ibom Chapter, Iboro Umoren told our correspondent that the workers decided to embark on the protest after all entreaties to the principal, Mrs Etoamaihe to pay the deceased families their entitlements had failed.
His words, “We decided to embark on this peaceful protest because we presented some of our demands to the principal, who refused to have dialogue with us concerning the loss of four colleagues to death recently.
“Two were on essential duty in the college’s kitchen. They died trying to put out the flame resulting from a gas explosion in the college’s kitchen. All efforts by the staff around to revive them were abortive.
“When we demanded that the college should pay their death benefits, the principal declined asking that, the deceaseds’ files be put away.”
Attempts to speak with Mrs Etoamaihe were unsuccessful but she replied to a text message sent to her phone denying all the allegations leveled against her by staff.
“All is a lie. If there is a genuine union there should be an executive in the school which should discuss with management,” she said.
Workers who protested carried placards with different inscriptions, “No payment of death benefits to our colleagues’ families, no party; principal who buys gift items for her friends is corrupt; principal settle your house before charity; No duty tour allowance, no party; pay compensation to families of our late colleagues; DTA is a right, not a privilege,” among others.