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Rivers government, labour disagree on closure of NLC secretariat

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Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that the state government officials sealed its office in Port Harcourt due to its resistance of the new minimum wage, which has not been fully implemented.

But the state government claimed that the NLC complex was sealed to enable the relevant authority carry out structural integrity test and to fix some defects in the property to avoid further deterioration and risks.

State Chairman of NLC, Beatrice Itubo, said, “If there was any need to carry out structural test on the building, was the organised labour not supposed to be informed earlier before the complex was sealed?

“It is less than one year that government built the facility and handed it over to us, we are the ones occupying it, are the government officials the ones to tell us that the building has defects or those of occupying it should tell them if there is challenge with the building.

“How can we believe such claim? I think it is because of our insistence for government to call a meeting to start fresh negotiation on the full implementation of the new minimum wage.”

Itubo, who described the state government’s January payment to workers as funny, noted that the union would not be deterred by intimidation, adding that they remained focused and determined in their demands for the right privileges for workers.Some agents of the State government from the Ministry of Special Duties had on Sunday at 10pm sealed the NLC Secretariat on Igboukwu Street in D/Line Port Harcourt.

Some civil servants told The Guardian that they received between N15,000 and N17,000 addition to their salaries instead of the approved N30,000, while others said, the minimum wage will be meaningless the payment of arrears, for which government has remained silent.

Meanwhile, some residents of the state have condemned the sealing of the NLC office. A human rights activist, Constance Meju, described it as undemocratic, urging the State government to call for dialogue with the organized labour to address the disagreement than sealing their office.

Reacting to the development, Special Adviser to the government and Head, Bureau for Special Projects, George Kelly, in a statement issued yesterday described labour’s claim as false.

“As you may be aware, the NLC building, which was built by the Rivers State Government was completed and commissioned only a few months ago by the Bureau and it is our normal practice to carry out general inspections and structural integrity tests before the expiration of the defects liability period,” he said.

He added that NLC’s claim was uncharitable, ungrateful and rebellious.Besides, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, has urged the state government and labour to return to the negotiating table.

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