Rather than involve themselves in the current crisis at the neck of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to focus on the affairs and activities that directly and positively impact on the lives of their members.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Rivers State Chapter, considers the planned strike action by the unions which commences Monday in Rivers State as unnecessary, uncalled for and an undue interference in an avoidable crisis that has opened up the can of worms in the ruling PDP.
The ACN statement signed by the State Publicity Secretary, Jerry Needam reads in part: “While we believe that the PDP has failed to call itself to order through amicable resolution of its internal crisis, it is our conviction that attempts by the Labour and Trade Union Leaders to drag themselves into the matter will not only cause more tension and disaffection in the state, but will heighten the state of insecurity and distrust between the people and the leaders.
“We call on the Labour Union leaders to reject the temptation of withdrawing the services of their union members through strike action state-wide. Rather than embark on such damaging, disgraceful and unwarranted action, the unions could better demonstrate more civility by showing genuine concern to their members in ensuring that the numerous welfare packages denied civil servants since the inception of the present administration in the state, such as the welfare packages, pensioners, Christmas bonuses are paid and that civil servants welfare buses that have suddenly disappeared from the roads, and arbitrary deductions of workers’ salaries are restored”.
ACN is aware that the minimum wage is yet to be paid to some LGA workers in the state.
ACN is also aware that Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANP), Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori Chapter, have shut down for two weeks now because of workers’ welfare. TUC and NLC have not called out members on solidarity in sympathy with the plight of workers in Rivpoly, Bori.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi illegally withheld federal allocations due four local government councils for four months on flimsy excuses that the affected council chairmen did not attend meeting on time, and were not loyal.
Labour leaders in the state did not kick against it, when their members in these four (4) local government councils were denied salaries for four months.
ACN is also aware that some labour leaders in Rivers State are not only on the Rivers State Government payroll, but are also running millions of naira contracts awarded to them.
ACN warns labour leaders particularly Chris Oruge and Chika Onuegbu who are cousin and uncle to Chief Andrew Uchendu respectively, an ally of the Rivers State Governor, not to tribalize and politicize labour issues in the state.
Again, we wish to advise Labour leaders in the state not to act in a way prejudicial to the decision court on the matter, ACN said.
The Party also appeals to members of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, not to allow themselves to be dragged into a political matter as such in the Obio/Akpor Council, as it was rightly stated by its chapter head, Comrade (Mrs) Helen Chiorlu during the recent Workers Day celebration, that “local government workers are like ‘barracks’, where soldiers go, soldiers come”, but they remain to offer their statutory services accordingly.
In our view, therefore, Labour and the Trade Unions should rather help to bring an end to the PDP crisis in Rivers State, not to fuel it.