By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Normal socio-economic activities in public offices including banks and other financial institutions have been paralyzed in Akwa Ibom State following indefinite industrial action embarked upon by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) beginning on Thursday.
The strike is sequel to the directives by the national secretariat of the NLC directing all branches of the union and Trade Union Congress (TUC), an affiliate labour group nation- wide to commence indefinite sit at home action to press the federal government to adopt a new minimum wage for workers.
To ensure compliance of this order in Akwa Ibom, officials of NLC and TUC on Wednesday evening in motorcades, drove through major roads and streets in Uyo, the state capital urging members to stay at home from Thursdaay.
Arising from the directive, a check round Uyo, the state capital showed that except private primary and secondary schools as well as few petrol stations which opened for operations, all public offices, banks and other financial institutions have their gates under locked and keyed.
At Idongest Nkanga state secretariat complex on Abak Road, which houses state government ministries and agencies, officials of the NLC and TUC who carried leaves and wore NLC branded shirts were seen as early as 7 am manning all entrances to prevent access to the complex by any defiant staff and ensure full compliance.
Same development was seen at the federal secretariat also located along Abak Road, Uyo. Some top civil servants including directors who went to their offices were seen stranded outside the gates.
Various public primary and secondary schools visited by our correspondent had their gates locked while pupils and students who reported to schools for classes were stranded outside the gate, others loitering along major roads in the state capital as their teachers did not show up for duty due to strike.
A check also showed that public broadcasting stations such as Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Uyo and Akwa Ibom State Broadcasting Corporations (AKBC Radio and TV) ran skeletal services as junior staff down tools.
The action affected a phone-in live programme of the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel who was billed to feature at AKBC Radio station today as part of activities marking Akwa Ibom 31st and Nigeria at 58th anniversaries as the programme was postponed.
When contacted on phone for comments, the state chairman of NLC, Comrade Etim Ukong said the strike was in line with the directives by the national leadership of the Union following failure by the federal government to honour the Union ultimatum on the new minimum wage for workers.
He however expressed displeasure by some private labour establishments in the state who failed to comply by the stay at home order, describing it as unfortunate.
Commenting also, Comrade Unyime Usoro, the Honourable Special Adviser to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Labour Matters said the strike has not affected the state government commissioning of projects, adding that the labour strike was legitimate.
It would be recalled that the meeting between labour unions’ leaders and federal government representatives to reach conclusion on the new minimum wage demand ended in deadlock yesterday forcing the union to embark on the strike.