Strike: Labour vows to shut down Cross River completely

The organised labour in Cross River State, which has been on industrial action for four weeks, has vowed to completely shut down the state in the coming days if Governor Ben Ayade refuses to personally address their issues.

Comrade Ben Okpebi, Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, disclosed this during a Sparkling FM radio interview alongside his Trade Union Congress counterpart on Wednesday morning.

He said the organised labour are very united in their demands for the government to look into and address all the 14 demands, or at most, reach agreement with them on the plight of workers in the state.

There are claims, amongst several others, that many retirees have not been paid their pensions for several months, while gratuities have remained unpaid since February 2014.

The Labour boss said: “We have had human face during this ongoing strike which is entering the fourth week, and it would appear that the state government is taking us for a joke

“We are determined to completely shut down the entire state since the governor is bragging, not wanting to sit at a table with us.

“It is heartless for anybody to deny aged retirees who put in more than half of their active life in the service of the state and are denied their statutory dues. It is unspeakable for you to treat workers who generate wealth of the state with kid-gloves and impunity as if they are fools yet others are basking in opulence.

“Government should be wise enough to address the demands put before them, pay outstanding debts and place workers as priority. It will be worse if the government refuses to dialogue.”

He assured that Labour will not give in or compromise with the government to the detriment of workers’ interests, urging workers not to yield to threats as they were battle ready to protect them.

NLC/TUC warned that they would use the Carrot and Stick approach to handle workers, pleading that they should be patient as hunger will not kill them.

Governor Ayade earlier sent his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu, to meet with Labour when he traveled to France with all 18 LGA chairmen and some commissioners but labour rejected, saying Esu does not have the competence to take decisions.

Special Adviser on Labour to the governor, Effiong Ita Umoh has insisted that they have since addressed all the grievances and demands by labour, adding that labour have no reason to hold the state to ransom.

Head of service, Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem issued a statement two weeks ago, warning that if workers did not return to work immediately they risked sanctions.

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