Governor Udom Emmanuel, finally, has reached an agreement with the State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over alleged planned strike action by the union.
He made this known through his Special Adviser in the Bureau of Labour, Productivity and Manpower Planning, Mr. Ekpenyong Enyinna, after a meeting between the State Government and the Union in Uyo.
Rising from its State Executive Council meeting on Friday, 25th February 2016, the state NLC had made several demands “that it expects government to meet which including the promotion of civil servants, payment of all outstanding promotion arrears to entitled workers, as well as reversal of all plans and actions aimed at a policy of ‘promotion-without-arrears,’ payment without further delay of all outstanding gratuities to all categories of retired workers (living and dead) since 2009, salaries to teachers absorbed since the 2013 ‘take-over’ of Community Schools by Government and teachers, nurses, doctors, house officers, and other categories of civil servants recruited since August 2014 and thereafter, arrears of salaries of Local Government workers in Ikot Ekpene, Ikono, Ini, Abak, Urueoffong/Oruko, etc; arrears of salaries to 77 Primary School teachers left out during the inconclusive biometric exercise since 2014; arrears of salary (December 2015 and January 2016) to primary school teachers left out in the inconclusive verification exercise by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; salary to SUBEB teachers in Junior Secondary Schools ; backlog of leave grants to teachers and local government workers ; release of report of State Executive Council Committee on newly recruited civil servants, teachers, nurses, doctors , and other health workers; harmonization of pensions in line with the law, which stipulates upward review of pensions every five years, or whenever a new minimum wage comes into effect; refund of outstanding balances in respect of deductions from workers’ Salaries in the name of 7.5% Contributory Pension Scheme.”
Other demands included “full implementation of CONHESS to nurses and other health workers; disengage forthwith, the services of Consultants who appear to be instrument through which Government tacitly downsizing the State’s workforce; Restore the payment of full Salaries to affected staff in Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit in line with provisions of extant agreements; Urgent recapitalize Akwa Savings and Loans Limited and ensure that the bank stays afloat to prevent another set of Akwa Ibom indigenes from losing their jobs; Withdrawal of the obnoxious circular against the statutory deductions in respect of workers cooperatives and other welfare schemes, as this has led to obliteration of the critical social insurance safety net for workers; Review of the controversial redeployment of Staff of Ibom Airport Development Company (IADC) to other Ministries; Release of all outstanding check-in off dues to all affected Industrial Unions and the NLC; Recovery of primary school counterpart funding from the Federal Government and the recovery from Federal Government of more than #2 billion in respect of arrears of severance entitlements owed to Akwa Ibom indigenes who were disengaged from AKSCON plc in Ikot Abasi.”
The meeting, which was chaired by Head of Service, Mrs. Ekerebong Akpan, is said to have dealt with all demands made by the union.
The meeting, we are told, ended on a peaceful note with the union resolving to join efforts with government to achieve a productive economy, appealing to government to look into building human capacity in the civil service.
Reacting, Mr. Enyinna said “government has done a lot within eight months in office and is still focused on delivering its promises to the people, hence the influx of investors into the state. Governor Udom Emmanuel has the interest of Akwa Ibom people at heart, which is why all workers have been paid up to date and on time.”
He further stated that the Governor’s decision to pay gratuities to retirees who were owed for over ten years is beyond leadership.
“It all about conscience, Governor Udom Emmanuel has the heart of compassion, equity, fair play and justice,” he said.
The Special Adviser applauded Gov. Udom for taking positive steps to correct the anomalies in civil service and going further to approve the payment of outstanding salaries to newly recruited staff who have been authenticated as well as pay pension gratuities incurred over the years.
He advised those that have not been paid to “exercise patience as contacts have been made with universities and other bodies to verify the authenticity of their credentials and other documents, following the huge employment racketeering witnessed during the last recruitment exercise into the state civil service. “
Reacting to the outcome of the meeting, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Akamba Awa, said he was enlightened following certain plausible details revealed by the government to the union during the meeting.
This, he said, has restored the lost confidence workers had in the government and that he is sure the government will make immediate efforts to fulfill its promises to workers in the state.
He however sued for calm and called on all workers to play their own part in seeing that Akwa Ibom rises to its faith of greatness.
State Commissioner for Education, Elder Aniekan Akpan, and the leadership of the state Council of the NLC were present at the meeting.