The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has declared industrial action; strike and street protest against Imo State government, starting from November 1st, 2023.
Workers from all affiliate unions of the congress are expected to be on the streets to press home their grievances over alleged non-payment of salaries and other unfair labour treatment against workers in the state.
NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, hinted this to journalists on Sunday in Abuja. He said that the Congress has already commenced mass mobilisation of its members across affiliate unions for the showdown in Owerri.
He added that Labour is deeply concerned about the persistent and egregious violations of the rights and privileges of workers in the state by the Imo state government.
He lamented that despite repeated efforts to engage in constructive dialogue and reach amicable agreements, the Imo State Government has become a habitual and serial breaker of these agreements.
Ajaero further said that Imo State government having continued to trample on the rights of workers in the state, left them with no choice but to embark on mass protests and industrial actions beginning on the 1st day of November, 2023 to “demonstrate our outrage and stop the continuing violation of the rights and privileges of workers in the state.”
He accused the state government of relying on its powers to deploy the fierce and coercive forces of the state against trade unions and their leadership to continue on this line of action.
“It has allowed itself to be misled in its belief that the continued use of threats and intimidations would perpetually dissuade Nigerian workers from taking their destinies in their own hands. It is on this note that we want to warn the government of Imo state that we would hold the Governor accountable if anything happens to any worker or trade union leader in the course of these lawful protests.
“All the threats we have received of violence against our persons are noted but we will not be deterred. On the 1st day of November, we begin this march to save workers of Imo state from the grievous harm the government has subjected them to these past years,” Ajaero warned.
The NLC leadership outlined some of the alleged infractions committed by the Imo State government to include refusal to implement previous agreements.
He also accused the government of repeatedly reneging on agreements, most notably the accord reached on January 9th, 2021, between the government and organised pabour.
Citing a backlog of outstanding salary arrears, Ajaero said some workers have been subjected to a staggering 20 months of unpaid salaries under the unfounded label of ‘ghost workers’.
Lamenting the situation, the NLC said under the guise of ghost workers, approximately 11,000 hardworking individuals have been unjustly branded as ghost workers, their salaries diverted even while they diligently carried out their duties.
He also accused the state government of vandalisation of NLC State Secretariat, describing it as a blatant attack on the rights of workers and a violation of the sanctity of their representative.
“The Government has failed to address the 8-year backlog of gratuity owed to retirees, showing a grave disregard for the rights of those who have dedicated their careers in service.
“The Government has persistently shirked its duty to properly implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage, a critical safeguard for the economic well-being of workers.
“The Government’s witch hunt against trade union leaders through various guises constitutes an alarming assault on the right to represent and advocate for the rights of workers.
“The continued deployment of thugs and violence against workers and their leaders is an unacceptable practice that undermines the democratic rights of workers. The impoundment and illegal diversion of union dues, funds rightfully belonging to the unions, is a gross violation of the rights of workers to manage their collective resources.
“Approximately 10,000 pensioners have been wrongly labeled as ghosts resulting in over 22 months of unpaid pensions, tragically leading to the loss of lives.The entire workforce is constantly subjected to threats of violence and sack, creating an environment of fear and uncertainty,” Ajaero stated.
The apex labour union in Nigeria also accused the state government of persistent resistance to the use of the instruments of social dialogue and collective bargaining as an affront to the principles of fair labor practices.
He said the violent interference and disruption of the Imo State Delegates’ Conference demonstrates a blatant attempt to impose favored candidates on the workers, undermining their democratic rights.
He said: “Nigeria Labour Congress calls on all stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to stand in solidarity with the workers of Imo State in the face of these egregious violations.
“We implore the Imo State Government to honor its obligations and recommit to respecting the rights and privileges of workers. As long as it refuses, we will continue in this course of action until we see the desired change. We are ready for industrial peace in the state but the choice is entirely in the hands of the Government of Imo state”.
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