The Rivers State Government has said it would be illegal for the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to hold a protest in the state.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said in a statement, on Saturday, that workers are going to hold a rally on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, against the state government over a lingering industrial dispute which has led to the sealing of the NLC secretariat in Port Harcourt.
Mr Wabba in the statement, however, accused the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, of plotting to disrupt the rally.
“We have received very credible information that the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has mobilised two local government councils around Port Harcourt metropolis to engage armed thugs under the guise of putting up a counter-protest to the workers’ protest billed for Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in Port Harcourt,” Mr Wabba said in the statement.
“The plan is to unleash violence on workers during our protest.”
The NLC president said the dispute between the state government and the Rivers workers centres on non-payment of salary arrears to the workers, especially teachers and healthcare workers, the non-payment of promotion arrears since 2015, and the non-payment of pension and gratuity to retired workers since 2015, as well as “negotiation for consequential wages adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage”.
The Rivers government, in a response by the Attorney-General, Zacchaeus Adangor, however, said there was a subsisting court order which restrained the NLC from protesting in the state.
The NLC president is a defendant in the suit which was filed at the National Industrial Court, Lagos, by the Rivers government, the attorney-general, Mr Adangor, said in the statement.
“The case of the Government of Rivers State before the National Industrial Court is that the organized labour cannot declare a strike action in Rivers State without strict compliance with the conditions precedent prescribed in the Trade Disputes Act, Cap, T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Trade Unions Act, Cap. T14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” the Rivers government said in its press statement.
“Our commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law in our State rather than rule by force, informed our decision to seek judicial redress against the organized labour.
“The Government of Rivers State will not engage in any act of illegality in confronting the monster of lawlessness which the organized labour now appears to epitomize,” the official added.