From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate unions in Cross River have threatened to shut down business in the state if the lingering ASUU-FG face-off is not resolved immediately.
The two-day warning strike is in compliance with the directive from the national body in solidarity with ASUU, which has been on a five-month-old industrial action.
ASUU declared a trade dispute with the federal government in March, in protest of the poor condition of service and inadequate infrastructures in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
The unions marched through major streets within the major metropolis and then addressed government officials at Cross River State House of Assembly, Governor’s Office and the federal secretariat.
At the Government House, the NLC State Chairman, Ben Ukpepi, said: “It is no news that our children have been home for about 5 months. Today we are here as NLC, We are waging into these issues to ensure that the fight ends.
“Either by compulsion or not, let our children return to school. It is disheartening, this is just a test and if after tomorrow nothing is done to address ASUU’s challenges, the entire Nigeria shall be on strike and we would be shut down.
“We call on the governor to ensure that he supports ASUU, to resolve issues holding our children back at home, and let them do the needful,” he said.
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In his response, the Speaker, Cross River state House of Assembly, Honourable Eteng Jonah Williams, said: “For me, NLC is coming too late. ASSU is your child and you waited too late. NLC is right that our children are at home for too long. We must take care of our schools.
“We are not going to keep quiet, I am taking your message to the speakers’ conference. Enough of these meetings and committees without actions. We need action now. So, all assembly workers should join you in the protest until we get to the end of this matter.
“We cannot keep quiet, enough is enough. I stand with Nigerian Workers,” the speaker remarked.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of ASUU University of Cross River state (UNICROSS), Patrick Ineji, appealed that the government should do the needful to resolve these issues.
The spokesperson for the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), John Owan, said: “For us, we are insisting that the 2009 agreement is long overdue. All the unions are together and so government should sit up and bring back our children to school.”
Responding, Dr Alfred Mboto, Permanent Secretary, Governor’s Office, said he will take the message to the governor.