Organized Labour, under the auspices of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its civil society allies, has concluded all mobilization to lock down Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference at the Labour House, Abuja on Thursday, President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said Nigerian workers will storm the Rivers State capital on September 8, 2020, to strongly protest against the “new progeny of authoritarianism, industrial tyranny and state-sponsored violence and terrorism against workers and citizens by the Rivers State Government.”
Wabba threatened that labour would ground every socio-economic activity in Rivers State until the Rivers State Governor does the needful.
Lamenting the anti-labour activities by the Rivers State governor, the NLC President said Nigerian workers are not cowed and will never be cowed by the “cowardly actions of Mr Nyesom Wike to cower our voices.”
Comrade Wabba said: “Nigerian workers under the aegis of NLC and TUC and our civil society allies in the discharge of our constitutional rights will embark on a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on September 8, 2020. The protest is to draw the attention of the world to the infractions on workers and trade union rights in Rivers State.”
The infractions among others include Act of Lawlessness by sealing off the NLC Rivers State Council; Witch-hunting, persecution and prosecution of trade union leaders on trumped-up charges; Non-payment of gratuity and pensions to pensioners since 2015 and Non-payment of promotion arrears since 2015.
He said: “Rivers State Government has failed to clear the arrears of pension and gratuity indebtedness in the state. This wicked act has become the living nightmare of senior citizens who are being punished for serving the state. These pensioners are dying in droves as a result of neglect.”
Wabba also accused the state government of withholding of workers’ salaries and lamented that the Rivers State Government is owing to some workers in the state up to 7-month salaries.
“The February and March 2016 salaries of teachers in Rivers State were not paid due to the biometric test ordered by the state government. Health workers in Rivers State were denied their October 2017 salary due to their participation in the National JOHESU strike,” He said.
The Congress President also said the governor has refused to negotiate with workers’ organizations on salary adjustments consequent on the new national minimum wage.
He said: “Since the enactment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000, there has been no collective bargaining agreement and enabling circular for the implementation of the new national minimum wage in Rivers State. The state government has also refused to conclude negotiations on consequential salary adjustments with workers’ in Rivers State and has also excluded all the tertiary institutions in Rivers State from benefitting from any consequential salary adjustment.”
He alleged that the state governor unleashed hired thugs on trade union leaders for protesting the anti-labour activities in the state.
According to him, “the Rivers State Government deployed hired thugs to attack workers both individually and as a group. The attack of trade union leaders and violent disruption of the Rivers State Executive Council meeting on August 27, 2020, was only icing on the cake of Wike’s malfeasance.”
Wabba said the governor has also refused to remit statutory check-off dues to trade unions and labour centres.
“By refusing to remit statutory check-off dues to unions and the labour centres, the Rivers State government is projecting an overt agenda of suffocating trade unions in Rivers State to death in clear violation of Section 17 of Nigeria’s Trade Union Act.
“If after next week’s protest, Governor Wike continues to hold labour in contempt and fails to redress our concerns, we will be left with no other option than to ground every socio-economic activity in Rivers State until the Rivers State Governor does the needful.”
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