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The strike embarked upon by the Edo State council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) went violent yesterday as the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, was beaten to stupor by thugs allegedly sponsored the state government.
The state chapter of NLC and TUC on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike over unpaid allowances by the state government.
It was gathered that worker who were trying to enforce the strike at the Palm House Secretariat Complex located along Sapele Road, Benin City were ambushed by thugs and beaten up.
Following the attack, some of the victims including Ademokun sustained head injuries inflicted on them by the thugs.
Speaking on the incident, Ademokun, who expressed surprise over the actions of the thugs whom he said got orders to attack them from a top government official, told journalists that the use of thugs by government or its agents will not deter labour from fighting for what belongs to them.
"We were out this morning after holding meeting with our workers on the progress we have made so far on the issue of Salary Relativity and we went to Palm House to monitor compliance when Oloye's boy's swam on us like bees, beating my members, shooting sporadically into the air even as some persons in police uniforms shot tear gas at us.
"As I speak with you, some of my members who were seriously injured were taking treatment at some major pharmaceuticals, you can see my swollen head. We watched helplessly as Loye (PS, Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities) gave directives to the boys to continue to disrupt us even when I told them that we came for peace and not to fight," he said.
Reacting to the NLC chairman’s allegation, Permanent Secretary State Ministry, Major Lawrence Loye (rtd), who said he holding a meeting with some government officials at the time the labour leaders arrived, explained that the they (labour leaders) were throwing stones on offices at the complex in a bid to force workers, an action he said was against labour law.
He said following their violent approach, members of the State Task Force on Environment who were at the scene intervened to make peace, but the labour leaders attacked them, forcing the task force members to retaliate.