The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Cross River state weekend, disagreed over how best to handle the indefinite strike scheduled to begin Monday, June 29.
The chairman of NLC in the state, Comrade Ben Ukpepi, had at the weekend, lamented that all efforts to make Governor Ben Ayade to see reasons why he should accede to the 8-point demands of the NLC have been aborted.
He enumerated the demands to include payment of outstanding gratuities to retirees from 2014; implementation of promotion; immediate return of names of workers removed from payroll and the immediate pay rolling of about 2000 recruited workers who have been working since 2018, amongst others.
Comrade Ukpepi said many retirees have died without getting their gratuities and that 1,885 workers have had their names removed from payroll without any explainable reason while more than 3,000 workers formally employed in 2018 and working since then, were yet to be officially captured in the state payroll.
He said the decision to embark on strike from Monday, June 29, was taken after the ultimatum given elapsed without the government blinking an eye, and noted that, “it is obvious the Cross River state government does not take the welfare of its workers seriously. This assertion is made on the premise that a plethora of workers’ issues presented to the government have been neglected and left unattended to.”
But the TUC disagreed, saying that going on strike during the coronavirus pandemic was ill-advised.
Speaking at a press conference, TUC vice-chairman, Comrade Gabriel Effiong, flanked by the secretary, Ken Bassey and other leaders, said: “We would rather continue negotiation with the state government on those issues.
“The TUC’s position against the strike called by the NLC is not to please the government, rather, the decision is taken out of conviction and as a matter of principles as the NLC leadership in the state did not build consensus among stakeholders before issuing the 14- day ultimatum to the state government,”
The TUC leadership said some of the demands submitted by NLC were genuine and were being looked into by the government, but that the congress was never consulted before the ultimatum was issued to the government.
“We disassociate ourselves and affiliates from the ill-fated, ill-advised and unwarranted ultimatum at this very critical time. During this COVID-19 pandemic, all hands should be on desk to steer our economy to safe grounds and not threats of industrial action,” the group stated.