N11b Paris refund: Total strike looms in Cross River
Workers in Cross River State may soon embark on a total strike action to protest delayed disbursement of N11 billion Paris club refund meant for the payment of gratuities and others emoluments by the state government.
Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state, Comrade Clarkson Otu, told The Guardian that labour had issued a-14 day ultimatum to government that expired on May 18.
He said the ultimatum would “be followed with a-seven day ultimatum” in accordance with due process to ensure enough notice was given to the government. The TUC boss said what the union was doing “is to give them the opportunity to come to the table and tell us what they are doing on these issues,” regretting that so far nothing has been heard from the authorities.
“After seven days, (expiring May 29) you know what will happen, strike action,” he added.Otu, disclosed that the government received the money since last December, adding that a joint committee of labour officials and government was put in place to work out payment.
“The committee has since submitted its report, yet no payment,” he lamented maintaining that after exhausting due process TUC may have no choice than to declare a total strike action, even as he urged the Federal Government not to release the second tranche until the proper thing is done.
On the issues raised by Labour, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong (Jnr), said, “the money has been here and we are now processing the payment to ensure that only those who deserve to get paid are paid.”
He dismissed speculations that the N11b was still in a commercial bank yielding interest.“Don’t allow people to give you wrong information, I am the person that can speak authoritatively and it has been used to settle what was recommended from the Federal Government…we are one of the very few states that have stuck to settlement of workers’ outstanding emoluments.”
He could not readily say when payment of the gratuities will commence, but sources in the ministry said, “we are just processing and doing the vetting, it that can be handled before the end of next week.”