Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia on Tuesday shunned the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which protested the reported recent killing of workers in Nasarawa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workers, comprising of affiliate unions of the congress, marched to the Government House, Umuahia from the state assembly to present their petition to the governor.
The placard carrying protesters, led by the Chairman of the congress in the state, Mr Obi Igwe, however, marched back to their secretariat on Aba Road disappointed when the governor failed to personally receive them.
The group staged the protest march to express its grouse against the reported killing of two civil servants in Nasarawa in line with the directive of the national leadership of the NLC.
The march commenced from the state secretariat of NLC to the state assembly where they were received by the Speaker, Mr Martins Azubuike.
On arrival at the Government House, the protesters waited for more than an hour at the gate before the Permanent Secretary of the Government House, Mr Onyii Wama, came out to address them on behalf of the governor.
The introduction of the governor’s representative by the NLC chairman was rejected by the workers, who insisted that Ikpeazu must come out to address them.
The workers immediately walked out on the governor’s representative back to their secretariat chanting “let us go, let us go.’’
Speaking at the state assembly earlier, the NLC chairman said the peaceful protest was organised nationwide at the instance of the national leadership of the organised labour.
He said that the march was for workers to express their anger at the Nasarawa incident.
He also said that the march was designed for workers to demand the immediate payment of their salary arrears as well as unpaid pensions and gratuities.
He regretted that while workers in the ministries were owed two months arrears, their counterparts in parastatal organisations were owed between six months and eight months.
He also said that while primary school teachers were owed six months, secondary school teachers and local government workers were owed four months respectively.
Igwe said that pensioners were being owed for 20 months, pointing out that many years of unpaid overtime and promotion allowances were also outstanding.
He also called on the Federal Government to probe past administrations in the state between 1999 and 2015.
The chairman also condemned Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s policy on the number of working days in Imo.
He said that the policy was a breach of the provisions of the International Labour Convention on the number of hours of work per week across the globe.
Responding, the speaker said that the assembly sympathised with the NLC over the Nasarawa incident, describing it as condemnable.
He said that the perpetrators of the act should be brought to book to serve deterrent to others, adding that “nobody knows who would be the next victim tomorrow”.
He appealed to labour in the state to exercise patience with the government over the arrears of their salaries.
He said that efforts were being made to liquidate the arrears and ensure that salaries were paid as and when due.
The protesters carried placards with varying inscriptions such as “Pay us arrears of our salaries,” “Pay us arrears of the minimum wage” and “Abia teachers say, pay us our salaries.”
Others were “What about our promotion arrears of 2013, 2014 and 2015?” “Fish out the killers of our colleagues in Nasarawa” and “Pay our salaries first before any other thing,” among others.
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