10th August 2020
HE Chief (Barr) Nyesom Wike
Governor of Rivers State
Port Harcourt – Rivers State
Re: Complaint on Recent Anti-Union Posture of the Rivers State Government Culminating in the Sealing of the NLC Rivers State Office by Agents of the Rivers State Government over the New National Minimum Wage Implementation
We bring you fraternal greetings from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Our letters dated 6th February, 2020 and 24th March 2020 on the above subject matter refer.
Your Excellency may recall our courtesy and advocacy meeting with you which took place on the 8th of February 2020. The meeting was aimed at resolving a number of industrial and labour related issues in the state. Your Excellency may also recall your expressed commitment to do right by workers in the state and to ensure that all outstanding industrial issues were resolved.
We write to report, Your Excellency, that the feelers we are getting from Rivers State including official communication from our Rivers State Council indicate that the industrial situation in Rivers State has only gotten worse since our last visit. This is clearly a betrayal of the understanding we had at our last meeting.
Some of the persisting sore points in industrial relations in Rivers State include:
- Failure of the government to conclude and sign an agreement with the Organized Labour as required on the implementation of the new national minimum wage which became effective since April 18, 2019 when the new national minimum wage was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR;
- Non-implementation of the annual salary increment by the Rivers State Government under your leadership since assuming office in 2015;
- Non-implementation of promotions by the Rivers State Government since your assumption of office in 2015;
- Non-payment of outstanding salary arrears for teachers comprising February and March 2016 salaries which were unpaid due to the biometric test ordered by the State Government;
- Non-payment of health workers in October 2017 owing to their participation in the National JOHESU strike;
- Non-payment of gratuity and pensions to pensioners since your assumption of office as the Governor of Rivers State in 2015. The failure to clear the arears of pension and gratuity indebtedness has become the living nightmare of senior citizens who are being punished for serving the state. these pensioners are dying in droves as a result of neglect;
- Withholding of statutory check off deductions due to trade unions in the state and labour centres including the Nigeria Labour Congress;
- Non-inclusion of tertiary institutions and others in the new national minimum wage scheme adopted by the Rivers State government; and
- The sealing up and vandalization of the secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress Rivers State Council by agents of the River State Government.
Your Excellency, the deplorable industrial situation in Rivers state is worsened by reports of witch-hunt of trade union leaders in the State. Already, the State Chairperson of JUSUN has been arrested and is being prosecuted on trumped up criminal charges. This is a new low in industrial relations in Rivers State and a sad commentary on the state of workers’ rights in Rivers State.
In view of the above and in order to stop further deterioration of the industrial situation in Rivers State, we request your consideration on the following:
- Government should conclude and sign a negotiated agreement with the Organized Labour on consequential salary adjustment based on the new national minimum wage;
- Implementation of annual salary increment by Rivers State Government;
- Implementation of arrears of promotions by the Rivers State Government from 2015 to date;
- Payment of the outstanding salary arrears for teachers comprising February and March 2016 salaries which were unpaid due to the biometric test ordered by the Rivers State Government;
- Payment of health workers their salaries for October 2017 withheld due to their participation in the National JOHESU strike;
- Release all withheld statutory check off dues to workers organizations in Rivers State. The continued withholding of trade unions’ check off dues violates Section 17 of the Trade Union Act, “the employer shall make deduction from the wages of every worker who is a member of any of the trade unions for the purpose of paying contributions to the trade union so registered; and remit such deductions to the registered office of the trade union within a reasonable period…
- Payment of gratuity and pensions to pensioners suspended since your assumption in office as the Governor of Rivers State in 2015. This is very crucial in order to save more pensioners from unnecessary suffering and the cold hands of miserable deaths. These pensioners are our parents;
- Inclusion of tertiary institutions and others in the new national minimum wage scheme adopted by the Rivers State government; and
- The unsealing and rehabilitation of the secretariat of the Rivers State Council of NLC hitherto sealed by agents of the River State Government.
While we look forward to Your Excellency’s urgent consideration of our demands, please accept the assurances of our very high esteem.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
The second letter was addressed to Imo state Governor, as shown below:
29th July 2020
HE Chief Hope Uzodimma
Governor of Imo State
Owerri – Imo State
LABOUR ISSUES FOR YOUR URGENT ATTENTION
We bring you fraternal greetings from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Your Excellency, I write to bring to your esteemed attention the unfair, inclement and very harsh working conditions that public workers in Imo State are currently facing. Some of these very dehumanizing conditions include:
- Payment of salaries are staggered as less than 70% of public and civil servants have not been paid salaries since March 2020;
- Incidences of salary slashes for those who are paid salaries for example lawyers in the Ministry of Justice were paid only 25% of their salaries for April, May and June. No reason was given for this;
- The negotiation between workers’ representative organizations and the Imo State Government on salaries adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage has been suspended by the state government;
- Pensioners in Imo State are owed over 3 months pension arrears;
- Non-remittance of check-off deductions since February 2020; and
- Stoppage of check-off dues deductions by MDAs.
Your Excellency, we are particularly worried about the prolonged salary indebtedness to Imo State workers and also arrears of salaries slashes. A worker certainly deserves his or her wages. Even the scriptures warn that workers should not be allowed to go to bed without their due wages. There is no gainsaying the fact that what is going on right now in Imo State is akin to modern slave labour.
It is really unfortunate that even trade unions and other workers’ representative organizations are not spared the current hostile industrial relations climate in Imo State. We understand that statutory check-off dues deductions from workers in Imo State are not remitted to the trade unions and to the national labour centres as our labour laws demand. In fact, Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Imo State have for some time now stopped the deduction of check-off dues. This anti-labour behaviours are against our laws as a country. Section 5(3) of Nigeria’s Labour Act clearly states inter alia:
“the employer shall make deductions from the wages of all workers eligible to be members of the union for the purpose of paying contributions to the trade union so recognized…”
- The immediate payment of salaries arrears owed Imo state workers especially those owed since March 2020;
- Full release of slashed salary arrears withheld by the Imo State government for about three months now;
- The reactivation of the suspended negotiation between workers’ trade unions and the Imo State Government on salaries adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage;
- Immediate payment to senior citizens (pensioners) their over 3 months pension arrears; and
- The immediate remittance of check-off dues deductions from workers’ salaries withheld since February 2020 and the reversal of the directives to and by the MDAs to stop check-off dues deduction.
Your Excellency, we wish to state that the Nigeria Labour Congress would be forced to consider very serious industrial actions if our demands in the foregoing are not met.
While we look forward to your expeditious response to our prayers, please accept the assurances of our very warm regards.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
Cc: Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment
Director General, State Security Service (SSS)
Inspector General of Police, Nigeria Police Force
State Police Commissioner, Imo State Command
Director SSS, Imo State
State Controller of Labour, Imo State
NLC State Council, Imo State
All Affiliate Unions of the NLC and TUC in Imo State