May 19, 2024

Settle your issues with workers, leave Ajaero out – NLC tells Soludo

Soludo begs Anambra residents to vote APGA in Assembly polls

…throws weight behind state workers’ planned strike

By Victor AhiumaYoung

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has advised Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State, to address the pending industrial issues in the state workers and end the overt attempts aimed at diverting public attention from the genuine grievances of the state against the government.

In a statement, NLC urged Governor Soludo to stop his name-calling and unwholesome outburst of making wild accusations using the clearly well-worn-out and obsolete clichés of a phantom 2027 political ambition of NLC President as a cover.

Reacting to Friday’s statement credited to the Anambra State Government accusing the NLC President of among others, instigating the seven days ultimatum by the Anambra State leaders of NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, because of his 2027 political ambition, it urged the government to show more respect and dignity to its workers and people by not allowing itself to be dragged into such desperate mudslinging in an attempt to divert Public’s attention.

NLC in the statement by its President Joe Ajaero, reaffirmed Congress’s “commitment to constructive engagement and dialogue with the government to address the grievances of workers in Anambra State. It is important to emphasize that the NLC’s primary objective is to ensure the welfare and rights of workers are upheld. We have received several complaints against the government of the state by its past and present leaders and have always deferred to the wishes of the leaders in the state as to the direction they may need our assistance.

“In this case, it should be noted that from our records the workers had written your government letters of complaint on the issues they have canvassed as grievances and reached some understandings which the government has refused to implement. It was the refusal of the government that propelled the workers to issue an ultimatum to compel compliance with the laws of our nation.

“To this ultimatum, we have given our maximum support from the national leadership and have thus communicated to all of our affiliates to do the same in keeping with our traditions.

“Contrary to the assertions made by the state government, Comrade Ajaero’s remarks were not intended to disparage the efforts of Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo or his administration. “Rather, they were aimed at highlighting specific concerns regarding the implementation of labour-related policies and the resolution of vexatious issues affecting workers in the state.

“This is unlike the unwholesome outburst from the Government making wild accusations using the clearly well-worn-out and obsolete clichés of a phantom 2027 political ambition as a cover.

“We think the Government ought to show more respect and dignity to its workers and people by not allowing itself to be dragged into such desperate mudslinging in an attempt to divert the Public’s attention. As a Professor, we strongly believe that such a gutter snipe ought not to have been allowed to proceed out of his administration.

“It is also imperative to address the discrepancies between the state government’s claims and the realities faced by workers on the ground. While the government highlights various initiatives and achievements, it is essential to recognize that there are still unresolved issues, including the payment of the 2019 National Minimum Wage, contributory pension deductions, and the cessation of special allowances including the Ndiolu Microfinance affair. That the Government acknowledges that there are issues which it claims to be outstanding is rather being economical with the truth. They are not outstanding but weighty and revolve around non-compliance with the Laws of the federation.
“The Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Wale Edun has also acknowledged that Governor Soludo’s government is in breach of the tenets of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act. The records of non-compliance are clear and despite the repeated efforts of the state leadership of Congress to get the governor to take steps to pay workers their due wages, the government has rather resorted to grandstanding and shifty expediency.
“It is also a fact that the Government is deducting Pensions from workers’ salaries and has refused to remit to PFAs according to the 2014 Pension Act. We must remind the Governor that this is a criminal breach of the Statutes which prescribe some years in prison or a heavy fine or both for offenders which the Government has made itself become one.
“We cannot therefore be talking about serious issues that bother the welfare of workers in the state and the Government seeks to wish it away with infantile insinuations. It will be a shame if the lives of workers in the state are not valued and the very things that make life worthwhile are robbed of them by the actions of the state government. We do not have any interests in how Soludo plays his politics or governs his state but we will be concerned and will take appropriate steps any time the government treats the workers in the state with disdain and contempt.
“Resorting to name-calling and wishful thinking as a means of engagement instead of reasonable and sane conversation begs the issue and clearly leaves Nigerians wondering whether this is Professor Chukwuma Soludo or somebody else.
“The NLC maintains that constructive engagement and adherence to factual information are vital in resolving labour disputes. We urge the state government to refrain from dismissing legitimate concerns raised by the NLC and TUC but instead focus on finding mutually beneficial solutions through dialogue and negotiation. We are mindful of sticking to the tenets of social dialogue as social partners and that is why the state council of NLC and TUC have endured the several abuses of the state Government against their rights all these years which the state Government has unfortunately refused to acknowledge.
“It is rather absurd that the state government will claim not to be in receipt of the letter of grievance issued by its workers as represented by the NLC and TUC but also contradictorily alluded to its contents in its Press statement. Perhaps, the Government was clairvoyant. In any case, this demonstrates the extent to which a Government can go in trying to deceive the public and that shows the level of respect it has for Anambra workers and people.
“It is important that Government should learn to show greater respect for its citizens who are the sovereign – the owners of the state by at least refusing to be dragged into the peddling of falsehood. The Government must demonstrate courage by taking that “simple step of a courageous individual by refusing to take part in the lie”
“The NLC calls for greater transparency and accountability in addressing the concerns raised by Anambra state workers. The establishment of a framework for regular dialogue between the government and labour representatives can facilitate the resolution of grievances in a timely and effective manner.
“Our interest remains the continued protection of the rights and privileges of workers all around the nation and the globe. Refusal to pay workers according to the National Minimum Wage Act and much more non-compliance with the Pension Act is not just morally reprehensible but illegal and we are sure that the governor of the state knows this. Blackmail, falsehood, or threats will not stop us from ensuring that the Government of Anambra State obeys the Laws of Nigeria.
“NLC and TUC will work to ensure that necessary action is taken to successfully pursue the interest of workers in the state. We, therefore, advise the Government to stop wasting its time pursuing shadow and to concentrate its energy on creative engagement to resolve the issues raised. We are continuously willing to enter into conversations with the government it is therefore the duty of the government to engage NLC and TUC to find an amicable settlement which is what we seek.

“However, if no reasonable accommodation is reached with us, we will take needed steps to protect the workers from further abuse and violation. Having apprehended the matter which is now beyond the purview of the state Councils, it remains our wish that the issues are resolved rather than all these dissipations.

“We assure the state Government that the NLC remains committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of workers in Anambra State. We reiterate our willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue with the government to address the issues raised by workers.”