The Nigeria Labour Congress has expressed plans to embark on industrial action and street protests in Owerri, the Imo state capital, on November 1st, 2023, to show its grievances over alleged non-payment of salaries in the state.
Making this known at a press briefing in Abuja on Sunday, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said it has begun mass mobilisation of its members across affiliate unions, saying 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.
Ajaero 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.
According to him, the state government, having continued to trample on the rights of workers, left the union with no choice but to embark on mass protests and industrial action to demonstrate their outrage over the continuing violation of the rights and privileges of workers in the state.
“It (state government)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 into 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 this 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,” he warned.
The Labour Union leadership however outlined some of the alleged infractions committed by the Imo State Government including refusal to implement previous agreements.
The NLC boss accused the government of repeatedly reneging on agreements, most notably the accord reached on January 9th, 2021, between the Government and Organised Labour.
He cited a backlog of outstanding salary arrears as an example, noting that some workers have been subjected to a staggering 20 months of unpaid salaries under the label of ‘ghost workers’.
Lamenting the situation, the NLC claimed that approximately 11,000 hardworking individuals have been unjustly branded as ghost workers and their salaries diverted even while they diligently carried out their duties.
He further accused the state government of vandalisation of the 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’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 labelled 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.