The organized Labour in Rivers state has again expressed its readiness to Begin an indefinite strike action from Monday 23rd March if the state government fails to meet up with its demands.
The Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, BEATRICE ITUBO gave this warning in Port Harcourt after the joint meeting of NLC and the Trade Union Congress in Port Harcourt. Beatrice ITUBO listed some of their demands to include; the payment of the National Minimum Wage and arrears, implementation of promotions, implementation of annual increments, payment of pensions and gratuity to retirees amongst others. Other demands are as follows: –
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
The Councils express reservation and equally rejects in its entirety the purported implementation of the New National Minimum Wage to some categories of workers in the State Public Service which do not only fall short of the generally acceptable standard but equally negates the basic principles of collective bargaining processes of parties in industrial relations.
The Councils demand for the immediate reconvening of the negotiating team on the New National Minimum Wage comprising of the organized Labour and government without further delay.
2) NON IMPLEMENTATION OF PROMOTION AND ANNUAL INCREMENTAL BENEFITS
The Councils reiterated its displeasure on the non-implementation of promotion and annual incremental benefits/steps across board in the State Public Service since the assumption of the present administration in 2015. While Council considers promotion and annual incremental steps as statutory rights and not privileges noted with dismay the non nonchalant disposition of the Present administration on the issue of worker’s promotion which breach the various provisions of the civil service rules and conditions of service.
The Councils resolved and demand for the immediate release of all outstanding promotions with incremental steps across board to the State Public Service workers.
3) OUTSTANDING SALARY ARREARS FOR FEBRUARY, MARCH 2016 AND OCTOBER, 2017
The Councils frowned at the nonpayment of February, March, 2016 Salaries, other sundry deductions and percentage shortfalls in salary differentials of some categories of workers especially tertiary institutions as a result of the last biometric exercise carried out by the State Government in 2016.
It equally noted with dismay the non-release of October, 2017 salary to Health workers that participated in a nationwide strike action as declared by Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in 2017. Consequently, the Councils demands for payment and release of all outstanding salaries and entitlements owed workers.
4) NON PAYMENT OF PENSION AND GRATUITY
The Councils decried the inhuman disposition of the Rivers State Government to the plight of retirees and pensioners who had dedicated the greater part of them lives in contributing to the development of the State. More worrisome is the nonpayment of gratuity and terminal benefits to retirees and pensioners since the inception of the present administration in 2015 and failure of the State government to fulfill her obligation of paying its counterpart fund into the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is considered appalling. While the Councils empathize with the retirees and pensioners in the face of harsh economic realities. Thus, demand for the commencement of payments of gratuities to retirees and pensioners and her counterpart fund into the Contributory Pension Scheme.
5) ONE HUNDRED MILLION (N1,000,000,000) NAIRA WORKERS REVOLVING HOUSING/CAR LOAN SCHEME
The Councils re-echoed with nostalgia the workers One hundred million naira (N1,000,000,000) Revolving Housing/Car Loan Scheme provided by His Excellency, Rt Hon. Dr. Peter Odili’s administration to enhance the welfare of workers in the State Public Service. However, Councils noted with disdain the sudden disappearance of the Revolving Loan Scheme with no trace.
The Councils thus, demand for the account of the workers One hundred million naira (N1,000,000,000) and revive the Revolving Housing/Car Loan Scheme without further delay.
6) REMOVAL OF THE HEAD OF CIVIL SERVICE, MR. RUFUS GODWIN
The Councils critically examined the continuous occupation of Mr. Rufus Godwin who has been retired as the Head of Civil Service, Rivers State and its effect on the relationship between the organized Labour and government as it affects the welfare of workers in the State Public Service. The Councils equally observed with concern the decision of the State government to contract the sensitive position of the office of the Head of Service which negates the provision of the civil service rules and its attendant effect on career progression in the civil service.
Thus, Councils demand for the immediate removal and termination of the contract of engagement of Mr. Rufus Godwin as the Head of Civil Service of Rivers State to pave way for career progression and enhance industrial peace and harmony.
Consequent upon the above, failure of the State government to demonstrate seriousness in addressing the issues raised on expiration of the seven (7) days ultimatum with effect from Monday, 10th February, 2020, the organized Labour will have no option than to commence an indefinite strike action without further notice midnight of Monday 23rd March, 2020.
Meanwhile, all workers in the State Public Service are encouraged to remain alert and gear up for the struggle for justice, equity and fairness.