The Trade Union Congress (TUC ), Cross River state chapter, and the State Public Service Negotiating Council, have dissociated themselves from the strike action called by the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), saying there were no cogent reasons for workers to embark on strike at this time.
The NLC in Cross River had issued a notice of an indefinite strike beginning from tomorrow, June 15 for failure of the Cross River government to honour agreements reach with the union.
The position of the two bodies was contained in separate letters addressed to the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade.
TUC’s letter was signed by Comrades Daniel Effiong and Ken Bassey, Vice Chairman and Secretary respectively while that of the State Public Service Negotiating Council was signed by Julius M Nkoji, Chairman and Clarkson Otu for Secretary.
They berated the NLC for being insensitive to the prevailing global economic situation occasioned by the global pandemic, COVID-19.
The labour bodies commended Ayade’s handling of the pandemic which has made the state the only one free from the virus.
TUC letter reads in parts: “We seize this opportunity to commend you and your team on the fight against the COVID-19 which so far is a sucess story making Cross River state the only state free of the virus in Nigeria as confirmed by the NCDC.”
On the industrial action called by the NLC, the TUC said: ” We write this letter in reference to the 14 days ultimatum issued by the Nigerian Labour Congress,Cross River state and copied to us. For as much we are not joining issues with the NLC we want to categorically state that we were neither consulted nor informed about the ultimatum.
“We disassociate ourselves and affiliate from the ill- fated, ill- advised and unwarranted ultimatum at this critical time”.
The TUC reminded the NLC that “the issues warranting the ultimatum namely, the national minimum wage, implementation of promotion, restoration of names into pay roll 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 ongoing process.They 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 days ultimatum issued without consultation with other stakeholders in the labour space is an overreach…and cannot enjoy the support of TUC”
It commended the governor for prompt payment of workers’ salaries saying “as a labour centre, we and our members are aware of the sacrifice government is making to ensure prompt payment of salaries and we commend government for that.We do not think or agree that crises or threats of crises will solve any problem”
On its part, 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 “now that Lockdown is being relaxed”
The body thanked governor Ayade for fully implementing the national minimum wage, describing the NLC ultimatum as unnecessary.
Its letter reads in part: “Your Excellency, may we use this opportunity to commend your successful payment of the new minimum wage to workers of Cross River. We thank you indeed.
“Having agreed that part of government/ labour agreement on those issues above have been implemented( minimum wage), others delayed because of COVID-19, therefore, the 14 days ultimatum issued by the NLC is not in good faith, especially now that the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council which speaks for civil servants has not exhausted all avenues and has not referred any matter to the NLC as a labour centre for assistance.”