The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abia State chapter, has charged the state government to clear the outstanding salaries of workers in the parastatals and agencies.
The state chairman of the NLC, Uchenna Obigwe, gave the charge on Saturday at a news briefing in Umuahia, organised to mark the 2021 Workers’ Day.
Mr Obigwe commended Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for ensuring regular payment of the salaries of workers in “core” ministries in the state.
“We appeal to him to extend similar gesture to teachers, workers in Hospital Management Board, Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Abia Polytechnic, Aba, Abia State Universal Basic Education Board, Arochukwu College of Education (Technical) among others,” he said.
He urged the government to make salary and pension payments “first charge”, saying that regular payment of workers’ salaries and pensions would help to keep the economy afloat.
“The problem labour is facing is that so many states in the federation are not paying workers’ salaries and pensions.
“If salaries and pensions are not paid regularly, parents will not be able to pay the school fees of their children, who are the future leaders of our nation,” Mr Obigwe said.
According to him, “many workers and pensioners are dying in their numbers because of government’s inability to pay salaries and pensions as and when due”.
Mr Obigwe, however, said the organised labour in the state has continued to enjoy ‘robust’ industrial relationship with government.
He gave assurance that NLC would continue to support the state government to ensure peace and progress of Abia, “but not to the detriment of workers”.
“When salaries and pensions are paid and workers’ welfare are taken care of, then we have no problem,” he said.
Low key celebration
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the workers’ day celebration in the state was low key.
Mr Obigwe said the prevailing security challenges and COVID-19 pandemic, still ravaging everywhere in the whole world, made it imperative to make the celebration low key.
Meanwhile, an attempt by the Trade Union Congress and a faction of NLC, led by Eze Idima to hold a rally at Ibeku High School, Umuahia, to mark the event was scuttled.
Mr Idima told reporters that they obtained permission from the school authorities to use the premises but were surprised to find the gate to the school locked.
Meanwhile, NAN reported that the national leadership of NLC removed Mr Obigwe on the ground that he had retired from service and appointed Mr Idima as the interim chairman.
Mr Obigwe, however, dragged the leadership to court and obtained an interim injunction that nullified the action of NLC leadership.
Hearing of the substantive suit, slated for April 21, was stalled by the current judiciary workers’ strike.
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