By: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Cross River State chapter, tuesday organised a peaceful protest march along major streets of Calabar to press home its grievances over the unpaid three months arrears of salaries to some segment of civil servants.
As a warning, it said, “the organised Labour in the state is giving the state government 21 days ultimatum to clear the backlog of salaries or it will be compelled to the call workers on strike”.
Also, it frowned that government had reneged on the agreement entered into with labour in October 2015 over workers welfare and other sundries.
Addressing workers before the protest, the State Chairman, Comrade John Ushia said “as much as we sympathise, mourn and condemn the gruesome killing of workers in Nasarawa state while driving home their legitimate demands, workers in the state should take note of what they are doing”.
According to him, “as we talk now, many are sick and many are dying. What pensioners are passing through in the state is a pity and it is something that is worrisome. We are not here because of the gratuity and pension but because of the national rally called in solidarity with NLC in Nasarawa state. But we want you to take note that we have given the state government 21 days ultimatum to obey the agreement they entered into with us in October 2015″.
He said that workers in the state were faced with amongst others, non payment and settlement of gratuity and pensions. Others include non implementation of promotion from 2013 to 2015 and the non payment of three months salaries.
Salaries, he said “is paid on net but the government had deducted salaries of workers in June 2015, July and August and had refused to refund it to their rightful owners. That deduction was meant for the building of labour house. They deducted the money and refused to remit to labour.”
Local government workers in the state are also being owed salary for three to four months in the state.
Ushia said “the 21 days ultimatum is just a signal, and we will follow due process, after the 21 days, we will give 14 days, after that we will give the final warning of seven days, if nothing is done, the strike will be total”.
He added that there are so many other things that proves that things are not going the proper way in the state. As he puts it, “there is no promotion, inadequate permanent secretaries. In some ministries, retired permanent secretaries are staying back as consultant. You go to work today, no impres to run the offices.”
In a related development, it’s affiliate union under the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) also held a rally at the premises of the Margaret Ekpo International Airport Calabar in protest against the planned concession of four major airports in the country.
In his reaction , the state chairman of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Comrade Idisi Ambrose said, FAAN workers say “NO” to Airport concession. That if airports are to be concesioned, it should not start from the four viable ones, instead the less viable should be made viable such as the airport in Calabar among others.
He said already Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano were viable and must not be concesioned.
Earlier the special Adviser to the State Governor on Labour Matters Mrs. Alice Erem-Abung appealed to the NLC to give government some time to address those issues raised instead of embarking on strike.