Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Workers’ day celebration in Anambra state witnessed low turnout of civil servants and top government functionaries as Ekwueme Square Awka, venue of the event, was nearly empty compared to attendees of last year May Day.
The workers were visibly unhappy not only for Governor Obiano’s inability to address labour issues raised last year but also because of Government’s non-fulfilment of their demands over the years especially as it pertains to increment in salary to help cushion the effect of current economic hardship in the country.
This was reflected in their address presented by the State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Jerry Nnubia, who expected Governor Willie Obiano to implement the N66,500 new minimum wage demand once it is approved by the Federal Govt.
Comrade Nnubia demanded the refund of all deductions from 2014 till date made from workers’ salaries in respect of the contributory pension scheme.
He appealed to Governor Obiano to intervene for urgent resolution of disparity in salary structures of state and local government workers as well as train and retrain workers to expose them to modern techniques of discharging their assigned duties for enhanced productivity.
While commending the governor for his victory in last year’s governorship election and achievements in the state workforce, NLC boss kicked against non-implementation of 65 years retirement age for staff of college of Education Nsugbe as well as non-payment of arrears and gratuity to retired local government workers and teachers from 2015 till date.
Responding, Governor Willie Obiano assured workers of the government’s relentless efforts to carter for their welfare despite the economic meltdown and paucity of funds.
On the committee set up to look into the labour issues, Governor Obiano who was represented by his deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke, urged workers to be patient as it would soon complete its work which was hampered by the November 18, 2017 governorship election, adding that the governor wished to address workers on salient labour issues but had to travel abroad to attend to his failing health.
The governor, however, noted that among the issues being considered by the committee were upward review of pension in the state, shift duty and housing allowances, responsibility allowance review for data processors, absorption of workers in state’s agencies and parastatals into the Anambra state civil service.
March past by different affiliate unions of NLC and Trade Union Congress formed the highlights of the May Day while this year’s event has as its theme “Labour movement in National Development: Dare to struggle, dare to win”.