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Cross River workers shun orders by court, government to resume work

By Anietie Akpan, Calabar
22 October 2021   |   3:02 am
Striking civil servants in Cross River State, yesterday, shunned the orders by the National Industrial Court and state government to resume work.

Ayade

Striking civil servants in Cross River State, yesterday, shunned the orders by the National Industrial Court and state government to resume work.

The strike by the organised labour in Cross River comprising Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joint Public Negotiating Council (JNC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) entered the 11th day yesterday.

The workers are protesting against non-implementation of the full 27.5 per cent teachers’ enhancement allowance, non-implementation of promotions, non-remittance of deductions from banks, and non-implementation of minimum wage, among others.

Workers in agencies, departments, courts, schools refused to show up for work, even as the gates of most offices remained closed. But at the Governor’s Office, some senior civil servants were seen running skeletal services.

Justice Sanusi Kardo of the National Industrial Court, sitting in Calabar, had on October 19, restrained labour and other affiliate unions from further holding rallies, pursuant to the strike, and locking up government premises. It ordered that the strike be suspended with immediate effect, saying the action did not comply with Section18 of the Trade Dispute Act.

Kardo urged the parties to “negotiate any issues if there are any to be negotiated and arrive at amicable resolution”.

He issued the order following a suit instituted by Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang against the NLC in the state for embarking on strike and locking up government offices.

Following the order, Head of Service, Mrs. Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem, on Wednesday night, issued a statement, asking the workers to report for duty, as “absenteeism will not be accepted”.

But labour, in an October 20 bulletin, charged civil servants to “continue to stay at home until you hear from us”. It chided the state government saying, “instead of settling our demands, the government of Prof. Ben Ayade is rather shopping for a court order to truncate our ongoing strike action.”

The bulletin reads further: “Comrades, discountenance any directives by any person from the state government. Not even a court order can break our determination to get justice from the government. We cannot be made slaves in our state!”

TUC Chairman in the state, Monday Ogbodum, said: “The workers are not complying with the orders from the court and the state government. We are not aware of any court process or order.”

Also reacting, JNC Secretary, Clarkson Out, said the organised labour followed due processes before embarking on the strike. He said the order from the court was strange as no process was served.

“We must meet with the people who sent us, first, before any decision can be reached. And let it be known also that a court order cannot compel workers to go back to work. We must meet as a group and decide before anything happens.”