By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), made history in this year’s 2021 Workers’ Day celebration by emerging first position in march past marking the event in Uyo, the state capital on Saturday.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong and State Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Amos Etuk led the union’s team to clinch the first place position in the history of May Day celebrations in the state since creation in 1987.
The match past which had over 30 Trade unions and associations participating, took place at Ibom Hall ground otherwise known as the State Unity ground, with the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel taking salute.
Second and third place positions respectively went to the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and Radio, Television and Theatre Workers Union (RATTAWU).
Addressing the workers on their event, Governor Udom Emmanuel described them as the engine room of development in the state, even as the backbone in his administration’s completion agenda.
He felicitated with the Workers forjoining their counterparts globally in celebrating the 2021 Workers Day
which has its theme Covid-19 Pandemiuc, Social and Economic Crisis: Challenges For Jobs, Social Protection and Peoples’ Welfare.
The Governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem attributed successes recorded so far by his administration to industrial harmony provided by the State organised labour unions.
He added that such harmony gave him the morale to ensure the welfare of workers even with limited resources available top priority in attention.
According to him, “We join billions of workers all over the world to celebrate your passion, dedication and unbridled patriotism. May Day, for decades symbolized a day of deep appreciation of all you have done in furtherance of our vision of growth, development and peaceful coexistence.
“The successes we have achieved for almost six years was as a result of our fruitful relationship. Whenever we’ve had moments of disagreement which is of course expected in the course of human interactions and relations, you always allow deep sense of circumspection and shared interest to guide resolutions of issues.
“I have always said civil servants are the engine room of our development and success and we have correspondingly done all we could with the limited resources towards addressing your problems and welfare. For six years we have paid salaries consistently and even in challenging circumstances and in the face of other competing interests.
“As you may have seen, we have commenced the payment of backlog of pension and gratuities of retired primary school teachers or their next of kin starting from 1976. We will continue to tackle this this issue as resources become available”, Governor Emmanuel stated.
Speaking earlier, the State Chairperson of Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunny James described this year’s theme as apt as covid 19 has disrupted the socio-economic order in the society.
The NLC boss however regretted the recurring problems and demands of the Union which had remained unattended to due to government’s lack of political will and not lack of resources.
“When we look at the list of annual Labour demands, made on successive May Days, we realize that most of the problems have persisted, not because of lack of resources, but, rather because of the lack of political will on the part of Government.
Some of the issues are the articles of collective Bargaining Agreements which the Government willingly consented to with full knowledge of all consequential financial implications.” He said.
He therefore advocated the establishment of the State Industrial Relations Committee (SIRC) so as to foster synergy between the government and the Labour movement as well as a platform for the resolution of labour issues in the State.
In his solidarity message, the member representing Etinan,…. Federal constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Mr. Onofiok Luke felicitated with workers in the State and called on governments to address the issues that always make workers embark on strike reiterating his support to judicial and legislative autonomy
Also, the Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the State, Comrade Dominic Abang said Workers Day should be a moment of sober reflection where the welfare of workers should be looked into and be improved upon.
He noted that the inflation in Nigeria has made ‘nonsense’ of the much celebrated Federal Government Minimum wage as civil servants’ real income has continued to fall and depreciated.
He also called on the State government to produce a clear development plan for the State as well as keeping reserve fund for rainy days.
The Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien on his part commended the civil servants for their commitments and passion even at the wake of the Covid 19 Pandemic.
He however thanked the governor, whom he described as workers friendly governor for addressing the needs and welfare of workers in the State even as he has commenced the payment of backlog/pension of retired primary school teachers or their next of kin
In his solidarity message, the member representing Etinan Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Mr. Onofiok Luke felicitated with workers in the State and called on government to address the issues that always prompted workers to embark on strike.