The Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), has given the State Government a 21-day ultimatum to resolve all pending labour grievances or risk industrial action.
The NLC described the government as being insensitive to the plights of civil servants in the state and accused it of blackmailing the organized labour and stifling its economy as measures to thwart industrial actions.
The State Executive Council of all industrial unions, under the NLC, after its meeting on Friday in Uyo, accused the present administration of not recognizing the existence of labour in the state.
The State NLC Chairman, Mr. Etim Ukpong, said the meeting was necessitated by the state government’s unwillingness to address the backlog of workers’ grievances in the state for over six years.
He said, “The state government fails to take into account the plight and lamentation of workers, especially in the public sector and their dependants despite constant pleas and demands of labour, especially the NLC.
“Rather than engage the leadership of organized labour collectively in dialogue and ensure a balance of interest, where the workers would not be short-changed, government has resorted to divide and rule tactics by trying to blackmail the labour movement, ignore the workers by hiding behind the economic leanness of the time.
“You would recall our persistent cries for the government to address workers’ plight such as payments of gratuities to local government retirees and workers living and dead since 2009, payment of leave grants to teachers, local government workers and workers in the parastatals, many of them dating back to 2012. Harmonization of retirees’ pensions in line with the law which stipulates upward review of pensions after five years, or whenever there was a new minimum wage in place.”
He listed other issues to include the release and implementation of promotions to civil servants, payment of promotion arrears, refund of 7.5 per cent deducted from workers’ salaries in the name of contributory pensions scheme, which was abrogated by the state House of Assembly two years ago, payment of salaries to teachers absorbed from taking over community schools since 2013, payment of salaries to civil servants, nurses, doctors, house officers and other health workers employed since 2014.
The NLC, in a communiqué released at the end of the meeting, also canvassed the recovery of over N1bn owed Akwa Ibom State indigenes by the Federal Government, which was removed from ALSCON in Ikot Abasi, recovery of primary schools counterpart funding from the Federal Government, payment of arrears of four months salaries to local government workers in Ikot Ekpene, two months salaries to workers in Abak, and a month arrears to workers in Ikono, Ini and Uruefong Oruko local government areas.
He said, “As we speak, nurses working in local governments are being owed the same arrears. Teachers employed and sent to junior secondary schools under State Universal Basic Education Board must be paid. The Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had rejected them and asked them to go to state secondary education board. As I speak, they have not got December salary.”