Two factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress, in Abia State held separate rallies at different locations in Umuahia, Abia State in a low key manner, with both lampooning the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led government for owing workers salaries to as high as 28 months.
Their rallies were in commemoration of this year’s Workers Day celebrated worldwide to honour workers across the globe and to present their common problems and seek better ways forward.
The Comrade Uchenna Obigwe-led faction said the government has despite several appeals and warnings continued to owe workers, even as it acknowledged the efforts of the government in paying core civil servants in the state.
Giving reasons why the celebration was low key, Obigwe quoted the government to have said that it wanted the event to be low key because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the insecurity in the country, stressing that the government said it did not want the event to be hijacked by hoodlums and used the opportunity to attack workers who would be celebrating at any rally ground.
On why there are factions in the state NLC, Obigwe who was in NLC secretariat, Aba Road, Umuahia with his members, denied that any other faction existed outside his, pointing out that an Interim Injunction from the National Industrial Court in Owerri asked his executive to continue in office pending when the matter in the court will be concluded.
Obigwe used the opportunity appeal to Governor Ikpeazu to ensure that the man to take over from him is workers friendly and sensitive to their plight, adding that workers will not be readily disposed to working with a politician who will not be responsive to their plight.
However, Comrade Eze Idima’s faction, whose Vice Chairman, Comrade Hope Ekwuribe read a prepared speech before vanishing out of the Kolping Conference Centre, Umuahia where they held theirs, insisted that the authentic executive of NLC in the state is theirs, even as they used the forum to commend the government for paying civil servants in the ministries and some parastatals.
Nonetheless, it listed the challenges workers in the state are facing to include: unpaid arrears of salaries as well as pensions and gratuities and asked the government to extend the goodwill on the civil servants in Ministries and some parastatals to other parastatals.
The parastatals being owed, according to Idima, include: Abia State University Teaching Hospital, 25 months; Health Management Board, 11 months; Secondary School Teachers and non tutorials, 15 months; Abia State Polytechnic Aba, 24 months and College of Education, Arochukwu 28 months.
Others are: Abia State Universal Basic Education Board Primary, 1 ½ months; Junior Secondary School, 11 months; Local Government Workers/ Health authorities, 2 ½ months; Abia College of Health and Management Technology, 2 months and pensioners in the state, 36 months.
Comrade Eze Idima therefore asked government to pay them without delay to minimize their sufferings adding “Government will agree with the congress that workers in these areas and their families are passing through difficult times”.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.