By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS—NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday insisted that there would be a total shut down of Imo State once the 14-day ultimatum issued to the state government to recall the 3000 sacked workers and tackle their unpaid salaries and other benefits expires.
The Imo State government is alleged to be owing workers of the state’ agencies including Imo State Water Corporation and Imo State Transport Company, between three and 15 months salaries and other benefits.
President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr. Igwe Achese, a member of the 6-man action committee set up by NLC to handle the Imo crisis, told Vanguard that all measures had been put in place for the planned action.
Achese who is also a Deputy President of the Joe Ajaero-led faction of NLC, said: “Like we made it clear when we handed down the ultimatum on Friday, January 22, once the ultimatum expires, we will take action and there will be a total shut down of the state. You are aware that both factions of Congress are on the same page in the issue because an injury to one is an injury to all. It was in that regard that a meeting of leaders of the factions in Abuja, set up a 6 man action committee on Imo which I am a member.
“We have it very clear that once the action starts, we will stop fuel and electricity supplies, banks and shops will be closed among others. ”
Recall that the Ayuba Wabba faction of NLC at its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting last Friday in Lagos, warned that Imo would be used as an example to others, saying “Congress resolved that any state governor who violates the sacred duty of regular payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions will incur the wrath of workers.Congress also resolved to mobilize to any state that retrenches workers because workers should not be made the scape goats of the downturn in the economy. The benefits of political employees are not touched. They are paid regular huge sums that are not even approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
“In line with the Congress’ philosophy of an injury to one is an injury to all, Congress also resolved to mobilize to Imo State to shut it down as a response to Governor Okorocha’s consistent anti-labour policies, impunity and retrenchment of workers, in spite of his promises to the leadership of the Congress that he would not take such decisions. Congress also resolved to take a national action in respect of Imo if necessary.
“Congress notes that Governor Okorocha has raised a private militia which he has armed to the teeth and they are at present inflicting injuries on innocent workers. Congress considers this as illegal and resolves to make a report to the IGP, warning that in the event that Okorocha violates the law by unleashing the militia again on workers, there would be consequences.”