By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The 31 days strike action by Organized Labour in Cross River state has been suspended.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNC) had on October 12, 2021 called out Civil Servants strike protesting against the non payment of gratuities amounting to about N50 billion, non-implementation of the full 27.5% teacher’s enhancement allowance, non-implementation of promotions, non-remittance of deductions from banks, non implementation of minimum wage among others.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State Government and the Organised Labour that suspended the strike on Thursday agreed that the implementation of promotions which is ongoing in the State with affect from September 2021, will end on or before August, 2022 in both State and Local Governments.
“That the State Government agreed to set aside a minimum of N50 million respectively montily with effect from January, 2022 for the payment of gratuitiesto both State and Local Government retirees with an additional allocation up to the maximum of that month’s and or year’s gratuity in any month and or year where the revenue inflows increase Also a committee comprising bothGovernment and Labour leaders to be set up for verification and payment.
“All remittances are ongoing in both State and Local Government. Subsequent deductions to be made alongside monthly salaries. That full implementation of minimum wage for workers would commence whenthe economy improves.That the balance of 27.5% to teachers shall be implemented when the economyImproves.
“That the tax exemption and allowance for Teachers should be restored after legitimate beneficiaries have been ascertained by April, 2022. That annual incremental steps of both State and Local Government workers shall be restored with effect from January, 2022. That the State Payroll is domesticated in Office of the Accountant-General, while the Local Government Payroll is decentralized and domesticated in SUBEB for teachers, PHCDA for health personnel, Ministry of Local Government Affairs forestall of Councils and Local Government Pension Board for retirees” .
The Head of Service, Mrs. Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem who signed for government and the Chairman of JNC, Comrade Godwin Otei for union also agreed that “actual salarypayment is committed to the salary banks by Directors of Finance and Supplies of Councils. That the names of the affected Local Government workers have been restored to the Payroll. That Local Government pensioners wrongly removed from the Payroll had beenrestored.
“That the lift of ban on collection of check-off dues by the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and return of motorparks was referred to the Special Adviser (Labour) and the Commissioner,Ministry of Transport, for resolution while the contract for supply of computers to workers should be terminated and acommittee set up to ascertain the outstanding liabilities” .
Briefing at the State Secretariat of Association of Senior Civil servants of Nigeria (ASCSN)/ TUC, Otei said that they have looked at the situation of things in the state and decided to agree to suspend the strike due to the meeting they had with the Chairman Traditional Rulers Council (TRC), Etinyene Etim Okon Edet who mediated for peace between labour and government so that there could be room for implementation of the agreements agreed .
He said, “Well,we have agreed to wait for another 5 months to see if the government will fulfil all we have agreed ,and we did this in the interest of the people ,this will go down as one of the longest strikes in the history of our dear state ,as we stayed home for about 31 days” .
The NLC Chairman in the state ,Com. John Ukpebi said they have not called of the industrial action but only suspended it for five months as they hope that government will not fail on it’s part as” there have been grievance upon grievances ,this is one of the longest strikes in the history of the state ,and this was because of government insensitivity”.