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65 Days After, The NLC Complex Is Still Under Lock & Key: What Is The Way Forward For NLC Rivers State Council?

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The annual May Day Celebration in a few weeks’ time is likely to be cancelled due to covid19, and the imminent face-off between labour Leaders and Rivers State Government on the new minimum wage and other teething issues affecting civil servants in the state, coupled with Government seizure of cheque off dues to the National executives through the state offices of the Union over disagreement between labour leaders and the rivers State Government.

The Beatrice Itubo led administration will be one-year-old in office on April 25th 2020, having spent a few months in the newly built up NLC complex donated by the state government to foster labour relations with government and to enable the labour leader’s functions effectively.

This noble gestures, initiative was defeated when on the Sunday the 2nd of February 2020 agents of the Rivers State government sealed up the office complex of the Nigeria Labour Congress over disagreement on minimum wage implementation and other issues.

Till date the NLC office in Igbokwu street D/Line is still under lock and key for over 3months by the Rivers State Government.

Some of the issues demanded by labour as obtained from the initial press release includes the following: –

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 their 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 March23rd 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.

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