By Chidi Nkwopara & Chinonso Alozie
OWERRI—Another round of labour war is brewing in Imo State, following a plan by Governor Rochas Okorocha to reduce the official working days from five to three, for civil and public servants in the state.
Okorocha, who made the disclosure while fielding questions from journalists in Owerri, reasoned that the workers could “use the two extra days to engage in any private business enterprise of their choice, particularly farming to augment their income”.
He opined that he would present the proposal before the State Executive Council, stressing that he would go ahead to implement it if approved.
“Ndigbo are not mainly civil and public servants but aggressive pursuers of their destinies. It is as a result of this that Igboland has low poverty rate in the country,“ Okorocha said.
Meanwhile, the state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpu, has described the Governor’s proposal as “ reprehensible, a slap on the Nigerian constitution and the biggest joke of the year .“
Chilakpu remarked that neither the governor nor the state legislature has the power to alter the work days of civil and public servants.
“The Governor must be told in clear terms that he would be subverting the constitution of Nigeria, which he swore to uphold, by reducing the work days in the state,“ Chilakpu said.
According to the labour leader, the International Labour Law prescribes that a worker must put in 40 hours per week, adding that this translates to eight hours per day.
The Imo NLC boss further argued that “holidays and annual leave were built in to enable workers to take care of the needs the Governor is talking about.“
Debunking Okorocha’s claim that Imo pays the highest salary to civil servants in the country, Chilakpu said that workers receive minimum pay like their counterparts in other states of the federation.
“There are states which pay higher than Imo State. It is most baffling why the Governor always borrow negative examples. The reduction of work days must be another way of justifying the inexplicable salary cut of workers,” Chilakpu said.