By Ike Uchechukwu, Emma Una
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, in Cross River State, yesterday, announced an indefinite strike by workers of the state civil and local government services beginning from midnight today.
Announcing the strike in Calabar, Chairman of the NLC, Ben Okpepi and that of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Monday Ogbodum backed by chairmen of affiliated unions in the state listed 13 demands by the workers which they claimed the government had ignored after series of appeals for implementation, leaving them with the option of indefinite strike.
The workers said that they had written series of letters to the state government which were ignored and also given 21 days, 14 days, seven days, and three days warnings to the state government, which were all ignored.
“We have sought all avenues for dialogue with the state government but we were ignored, and this strike is total and indefinite. We will rather go to jail than abandon our demands this time around because this government has just one year and six months to end and if we fail to have our demands met now, there will be no other auspicious time,” Okpepi said.
He listed their demands to include the non-implementation of workers promotion since 2016, none payment of gratuities to retired workers since 2014, failure to re absolve 33 workers, whose names were wrongly deleted from payroll, refusal to move compilation of payroll from auditors to accountants, and failure to implement yearly step increment for workers.
“During the implementation of Minimum Wage in 2019, organised labour agreed with the state government on a certain percentage and after a year, the minimum wage would be implemented in full but up till now, that has not been done and even the agreed percentage is done haphazardly. Even for those who have retired, gratuity is not paid. It will shock you to know that some workers in the local government who retired since 1990 have not received their gratuities and most have died. We cannot continue to live this way.
“The 27 percent Enhanced Salary Allowance for teachers which the Federal Government approved has been implemented in other states, Cross River State is yet to do so and all efforts to make government do that have failed.
“We are not on strike against Governor Ben Ayade but Cross River State Government. Our demands are important to us and should be met. We are open for dialogue at any time but for now, let all the workers down tools to press home our grievances until they hear from us.”
He said an implementation team had been set up to monitor and ensure complete adherence to the strike by all state government workers.
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