·        L.G.A, IMSU Staff, others insist on strike

The Imo state government that had severally applauded its self for having conducted several comprehensive verification exercises through which it claimed have unveiled monumental fraud, padded salary and pension bills arising from the inclusion of ghost workers and pensioners in the nominal rolls is surprisingly said to have embarked on another round of verification exercise for workers in the state.

It was also gathered that the government has distributed forms for exercise.

Most civil servants in the state who don’t seem to understand why the Hope Uzodinma led APC government that claims to have paid salaries and pensions up to date based on the comprehensive data,it claims to have expertly collated, is still embarking on another round of verification.

“What is the essence of another verification exercise, when the government and its agents had on severally occasions mentioned outrageous amounts they saved by blocking financial looppholes and expunging names of ghost workers and pensioner from the payroll.”

“Which data did they use in computing and paying the arrears of salaries and pensions they claimed to have cleared.

If they have actually paid as claimed, what is the need for another verification in just one year”.

They alleged that the present purported verification exercise is “a ploy to further down size the workforce and unleash more pain, anguish and psychological trauma on those who will be affected by this unwarranted act of wickedness and insensitivity”

The government in a deft move to clear the coast and have its way, is also said to have adopted a divide and rule strategy to weaken the Nigerian Labour Congress NLC, which they have already infiltrated and planted seeds of discord.

Some civil servants who commented on the brewing discord within the ranks of the organized labour in the state, said, “ it is obvious that it is the handwork of fifth columnists and sponsored agents aimed at ensuring that the  NLC is castrated, and made incapable  of presenting a common front to resist government’s obnoxious antics and onslaught against Imo workers.”

A government house source who pleaded anonymity told this reporter that, “Imo workers can never speak with one voice or have their way in labour  related matters. We will always fine tune our strategy, adopt the carrot and stick approach to manipulate their leadership into submission “Now that the Austin Chilakpu led exco is working with the opposition, we will do everything we can to oust them.”

Shortly after the boast by the government house source, a faction of the NLC, in a release signed by one Comrade Chief Nicholas Uba and Comrade Ogu Maduabuchi on behalf of Imo workers gave credence to it by distancing and dissociating its self from the strike action initiated by the Chilakpu led NLC with effect from Monday 25th January 2021.

The release stated that, “Imo workers have lost confidence in the Chilakpu led exco of Imo NLC, that has deceived the workers severally in similar matters. Imo workers are tired of Chilakpu and his many reasons for non-performance. He lacks the sincerity to led Imo workers.”

The release also accused Chilakpu “who is a retiree of having baptized himself into partisan politics that he now stands as the voice of the opposition instead of being the voice of Imo workers”

Uba and his group urged, “Imo workers who have suffered untold hardship under Chilakpu’s bad leadership to disregard his strike directive and be in office on Monday 25th January, and go about their normal duties and fill the forms provided by government.”

However, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has insisted on embarking on indefinite strike.

 In a release dated 22nd January, 2021, signed by the State Secretary, Comr. Victor Adebayo and addressed to all L.G.A Interim Management Council Chairmen, Directors of Administration and General Services, and L.G.A Staff, all workers and pensioners in the state were directed to embark on indefinite strike action with effect from Monday 25th January 2021, in line with the directive of the Chilakpu led state exco of NLC.

The release further said, “the vexed issues in contention include, non payment, staggered  payment and underpayment of Imo workers salaries and pensions since February 2020 till date.”

“Demand for the immediate conclusion of the N30,000 national minimum wage negotiation and it’s immediate implementation in the state.”

“Demand for the reversal of the payment of salaries to the office of the Accountant General through the established payroll system.”

“Immediate stoppage of the elongation of terms of service of retired workers to the detriment of the career progression of those in active service.

“Immediate commencement of the due promotion/conversion exercise and implementation of the due incremental dates”

“The implementation of the 2014 exercise in the parastatals  and the release of the 2016/2017 conversion exercises conducted for local government workers.”

“Non-remittance of check-off dues to Labour Unions.” The release further directed that all local government offices should remain closed while the workers stay at home with effect from Monday 25th January 2021, till further notice. It also urged all NULGE state and local branch officers to ensure total compliance with the directive of the organized labour in Imo State.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) also in a circular dated 22nd January, 2021, signed by Harrision Agumba as Chairman and Ambrose Okereafor as Secretary said, “the organized labour in the state, wishes to inform all workers and pensioners in Imo State that an indefinite strike action shall commence in the state from Monday 25th January 2021.”

The release also cited the same reasons given by NULGE for the strike.