By Steve Oko
The member representing Aba South in the state House of Assembly, and Leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in the state, Obinna Ichita, has decried the condition of Abia workers following months of unpaid wages, saying “they have no reason to be happy”.
The lawmaker, who stated this in a goodwill message on the Workers’ Day celebration, accused the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration of toying with workers’ welfare.
Ichita said that the condition of workers in the state was worse than labour exploitation, urging them to “stand and fight for their rights now”.
He said that the backlog of salary arrears owed workers in the state was a confirmation that the state government had no regard for workers.
“In Abia, we have a situation worse than labour exploitation. A few examples will suffice: workers in Abia State Polytechnic are owed 34 months of salary arrears; workers in Abia State Hospital Management Board have not been paid in the last 12 months; workers in Abia State University Teaching Hospital are owed many months of salary arrears.
“Workers in Abia State Local Government system are owed many months salary arrears; many workers in Abia State Ministries, Departments and Agencies are paid half salary for many months now.
“Workers in Abia State University are owed many months of salary arrears.
“Workers in Abia State Ministries are owed months of salary arrears; workers in Abia State College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu are owed over 26 months salary arrears; retired workers in Abia State are owed over 2 years pension arrears; senior workers like Permanent Secretaries are also owed many months of salary arrears; senior judicial officers in Abia State are also owed even as they struggle with horrible conditions of service.”
Paraphrasing Marx and Engels (1884), the lawmaker said: “If Abia workers unite and fight for their rights, they will have nothing but their chains to lose.”
Ichita said Abia workers had no reason to be happy and urged the State Government to prioritize the welfare of workers, arguing that a labourer deserves his wage.
“Only the oppressors and/or their agents would dare call today a happy workers’ day.
“The reality on ground confirms that it is not a happy workers’ day in Abia state,” the lawmaker added.