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Governor Ben Ayade Has Failed Workers – NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC ) in Cross River State has given the Governor Ben Ayade a seven-day ultimatum, beginning from yesterday (Wednesday) to implement a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between both of them on July 2, 2017, else workers would resume strike.

Addressing reporters, at the end of a State Executive Council (SEC) meeting at the NLC secretariat in Calabar, its chairman, Comrade John Ushie, said the governor had failed workers in the state by reneging on the agreement.

It would be recalled that workers in the state had embarked on an indefinite strike earlier this, which they suspended after coming to an agreement, embodied by the MOU with the state government on July 2.
Ushie said, “We express our disappointment with the government for failure to honour some critical aspects of the memorandum of understanding that was signed on July 2, 2017. Among them are some of the issues of the failure of government to pay gratuity to retirees from June 2013 till date.

“We are also aware that the Cross River State Government, after that action that was suspended on the 2nd of July had agreed to pay that week.

“The 2013 retirees were to be paid off their gratuity without any further delay or pressure. But we are here again to tell the whole world that that agreement was not kept and the government has jettisoned the agreement again.

“That has led to this meeting today as directed by the National Executive Council meeting, which was held on the 16th of November, where the NEC directed all state councils where the government has not implemented fully the payment of salaries, arrears of salaries, arrears of pensions and gratuities to go back and put into a force a strategy to put into force that is complied with. And that was done on the basis of the fact that the Paris Club Refund has been released to all the state governments and that money was meant specifically to pay arrears of salaries, gratuities and pension.

“But permit me to mention here that for Cross River State specifically, from 2015 did not own any arrears on salary. But we are aware that they owe arrears of pension and gratuities.

“And so for us as labour, our thinking was that when this money came, government was to use it to clear the arrears and therefore use others for the payment of salaries as it was agreed initially.

“But our disappointment is that the government did not keep to that agreement and therefore reneged on it. And today we are still discussing on the issue of gratuity of 2013, which the governor himself told us that the second Paris Club Fund that was coming was to be used for.

“Today as it stands the government of Cross River is owing gratuity from 2013 till date. And soon we would enter 2018 as the workers continue to retire without their entitlements,” Ushie said.

Ushie said the government had also failed the workers in terms of the implementation of the workers promotion; regularizing the state payroll system; selective payment of imprest to Ministries, Departments and Agencies; and failure to return the Etim Edem Motor Park to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, which were all part of the MOU.

He said all efforts to reach the government to resolve the issues had proved abortive.

“Government has failed to regularize the state payroll.

“Since October 2016 they employed a consultant to handle payroll and we pointed out that they will not be able to handle the payroll because we already had in place a payroll that was superb and being copied by other states in this federation.

“Today the state is paying half salaries, distorted salaries, even workers who gain promotion get to earn even lower than what they were earning before, as a result. Also there has been this conflict that the Accountant general’s Office would pay salaries, and in another month, the Office of the Head of Service would pay and this confusion has set it for workers not have their accurate salaries which has brought untold sufferings to the workers.

“The government should make haste to correct this immediately.

“SEC also views with dismay the selective payment of imprest to the MDAs. We have said it that no MDA would function properly without imprest and one of the things that would make MDAs work hard and deliver is the imprest, and where there are selective or no payment at all, it therefore means the civil service is gradually grinding to a halt.

“Also failure to return the Etim Edem Motor Park to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, which is their jurisdictional scope of work is another issue discussed here and SEC has directed that government should without delay release the park to this statutory body, who are the only people recognized by the constitution and labour act to load and offload in a motor park.

“SEC also wishes to inform the public that all efforts made to reach the government on the resolution stated above have proved abortive. We have done that severally through writing letters to the governor and through many other means without any response and this has led to this point.

“SEC has given the state government a seven day ultimatum with effect from December 13, 2017 to fully implement the MOU. Failure to this, we shall resume our strike action which was suspended on July 2,” he said.

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