THE Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Peter Akpatason, have warned the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha not to compound the unemployment problems in the country with his alleged disengagement of 3,000 workers from the state. The lawmaker, a former president of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, said the action would increase youth restiveness, adding that sacking 3,000 workers would directly or indirectly affect about 30,000 people who are dependants of the workers.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard in Abuja, Rep Akpatason said: “I don’t think anybody should be talking about sacking people right now. We have too many unemployed people, Okorocha should not compound the problem. Sacking 3,000 workers is directly or indirectly sacking about 30,000 people.” In the same vein, the NLC, yesterday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Imo State Government to recall the 3000 workers sacked last week or Oragnised Labour would shut down the state by ensuring that fuel supply, electricity and banking activities among others are interrupted.
This is coming as the NUPENG called on the Federal Government to stop Chevron and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, from extending the planned sack of 18,500 workers globally to Nigeria.
No going back on our 7-point demand in Imo – NLC
At a briefing in Lagos, the NLC vowed that at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, if its seven- point demand was not met by the governor, all government activities in Imo State and its liaison offices in Lagos and Abuja would be crippled.
Mr. Joe Ajaero and other leaders of his faction of NLC said within the next 14 days, the Imo State government must purge itself of unlawful actions, the Governor of Imo State must rescind the illegal announcement purportedly sacking 3000 of our members, all the workers said to have been sacked must be recalled immediately and their entitlements fully paid, that Imo State government must tender unresolved apologies to the workers who it has traumatized over the years and the Imo State government should henceforth desist from further harassing, intimidating and humiliating workers and their leaders in the state which seems to have become habitual.
Noting that the government was owing workers of the state’s agencies including Imo State Water Corporation and Imo State Transport Company between three and 15 months salaries and other benefits, Ajaero lamented that despite collecting billions of Naira from the Federal Government as bail-out, the government had refused to pay workers their salaries and allowances for them to meet their obligations to their families and defendants.
The factional President of NLC, lamented that Organised Labour had thought that as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Governors’ Forum, the presidency, the APC or even the State House of Assembly would call the governor to order, insisting that NLC was now ready to resort to self help to address the injustices done to her members.
Reeling out Okorocha’s perceived sins against the state workers in the last five years of his administration in spite of the support given to him by the workers, the NLC said: “His history of owing workers’ salaries in arrears of sometimes up to six months is well known and arrogance with which he runs the state as if it is his manor or fiefdom, has become legendary. It is on record that he was one of the governors that collected billions of Naira in bail-out funds from the Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries, yet refused to pay workers. We believe that was akin to obtaining by trick, an offence punishable under our penal code 419.”
Ajaero advised the citizens of the state to stock-pile food stuff because once the ultimatum expires without the governor meeting labour demands, labour would cripple the state. He threatened that electricity supply would be cut off, fuel supplies would be stopped, banks and other financial institutions in the state would close, shops, retail shops, departmental shops and the likes would also be closed down until the demands of labour were met.
Collaborating, Deputy President of the faction and President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr. Igwe Achese, warned that at the expiration of the ultimatum, if labour demands were not met, the leadership of Congress would relocate to Imo State and ensure that the state was shut down. According to him, labour would no longer tolerate a situation where workers’ welfare and that of their defendants are sacrificed for the ostentatious life styles of politicians, saying Imo State would be used as a test case for other states with the same attitude to learn from.
Chevron, Shell’s planned sack of 18,500 workers ‘ll threaten industrial peace – NUPENG
Calling on the Federal Government to stop Chevron and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, from extending the planned sack of 18,500 workers globally to Nigeria, the NUPENG in a statement by its President, Mr. Igwe Achese, said the union was worried and concerned about the sack threat because it is alarming.
Noting that the planned purge would be a sack too many, as oil workers in Chevron Nigeria and Shell would be affected as the two companies had adduced dwindling oil prices in the international market for the move, Achese said: “NUPENG calls on the Federal Government to halt the threat of loss of jobs in Nigeria by these multinational companies and wonders why Chevron and Shell should engage in the impending sack when they have fully divested from on – shore oil fields. It will be morally unjustified for Chevron and Shell to retrench oil workers in Nigeria as they are carting away profits made from deep oil shores and joint venture gas projects. NUPENG condemns in its entirety the impending sack as it will not work with the current efforts of the Buhari administration to generate employment instead of job losses.
“It will amount to derailing the efforts of the government to provide jobs for Nigerians. The oil giants should cut cost by employing Nigerians in positions where expatriates hold sway and are paid 10 times what our people are getting. NUPENG warns that it may be forced to embark on industrial action, if the Federal government, through the regulatory agency, NNPC fails to stop Chevron and Shell from sending oil workers in Nigeria to the unemployment market.”