From: Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has for the second time given the state government a 7-day ultimatum to pay off arrears of gratuities of retirees or have the entire state shut down.
Handing dawn the ultimatum shortly after the Executive Council meeting of the union held, on Wednesday, in Calabar, state Chairman of NLC, Mr. John Ushie, said the state government owes gratuities of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
According to Ushie: “In July , the workers had gone on indefinite industrial action following the non-payment of gratuities. But after signing MOU with the government, they labour leaders suspended the strike.
“We are, therefore, giving the state government seven days ultimatum beginning from today to fully implement the MOU signed on July 2 2017 and failure to do this, the state shall resume its industrial action which was suspended on July 2 2017.
Ushie also said that the warning became necessary following the state government’s refusal to pay the gratuities owed retirees even after an agreement was signed between the union and representatives from the state government on July 2 2017.
He continued, “The Paris Club Refund has been released to all the state governments and that money was meant primarily to pay arrears of salaries, arrears of gratuities and pension.
“Permit me to say that Cross River does not owe any arrears of salaries from 2015. But as it stands today, the government of Cross River owes gratuities of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and very soon we will be entering 2018.
“All efforts to reach the governor have failed, hence the call for this action. So, we are dissatisfied that the union was still discussing the issues of gratuity of 2013 when the governor promised them that the second tranche of the Paris Club will be used to settle the gratuity of 2014.
On promotion, the NLC said the state had also failed to implement the promotion of deserving civil servants in the state, adding that workers had gotten their promotion letter without implementation.
“From our investigation, we were told that the governor directed that the promotion should not be implemented. We are calling the governor to immediately reverse this direction in other to allow workers to enjoy their benefits.
“The state government has also failed to regularise her payroll. In October 2016, the state government hired a consultant to handle the pay roll and we pointed out that this consultant would not be able to handle the payroll.
“Today, workers are now receiving half and distorted salary and this had caused untold hardship on the working class’’, Ushie stated.