THE Trade Union Congress, Cross River State chapter, and the State Public Service Negotiating Council, have backed out of the strike action called by the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
The NLC in the state had two weeks ago, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the state government to implement the new minimum wage, implement promotion of workers and reinstate workers whose names were removed from the payroll or be ready to face workers’ strike, which would begin today.
TUC and the State Public Service Negotiating Council backed out of the strike in separate letters to the state Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
TUC’s letter was signed by Vice Chairman, Daniel Effiong; and Secretary, Ken Bassey, while that of the State Public Service Negotiating Council was signed by Chairman, Julius Nkoji; and Secretary, Clarkson Otu.
According to the two labour groups, there were no cogent reasons for workers to embark on strike at this time as all the issues raised by the organised labour have either been addressed or on the verge of being addressed by the Ayade administration.
They said the NLC was insensitive to the prevailing global economic situation occasioned by the global pandemic, COVID-19.
TUC said, “We write this letter in reference to the 14-day ultimatum issued by the NLC, Cross River State and copied to us. For as much we are not taking issues with the NLC, we want to categorically state that we were neither consulted nor informed about the ultimatum.
“We dissociate ourselves and affiliate from the ill-fated, ill-advised and unwarranted ultimatum at this critical time.”
TUC also told NLC that, “the issues warranting the ultimatum namely, the national minimum wage, implementation of promotion, restoration of names into payroll etc. are issues that were collectively negotiated by organised labour- the joint council, the TUC and the NLC.
“To the best of our knowledge, the minimum wage has been fully implemented as agreed as of today. The implementation of promotion is also an ongoing process. There are delays and we agree, but labour, including the NLC, is well aware of causes of delay in implementation. The chairman of NLC is the chairman of the committee looking into cases of fraudulent and irregular promotion of civil servants.
“We are also aware that the verification of suspended names from the payroll was also billed to commence before the COVID-19-induced restrictions and discussions were ongoing with the Head of Service on how best to address the issue.”
“We do not want to believe that the NLC is not sensitive enough to the socio-economic environment. The 14-day ultimatum issued without consultation with other stakeholders in the labour space is an overreach…and cannot enjoy the support of TUC.”
Also, the State Public Service Negotiating Council, while attributing the delay in implementing some of the agreements to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, urged the government to speed up the process, especially when the lockdown had been relaxed.