Resolve Issues With Anambra Workers And Shun ‘Gutter’ Politics; It Doesn’t Suit You As Professor, NLC Tells Gov Soludo

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NLC President, Joe Ajaero in an interview on AIT and through a letter notifying the state government of an impending industrial action, accused Governor Soludo of operating anti-worker policies.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s government of peddling falsehood.

The NLC denounced a press statement dated May 17, 2024, issued by the Anambra State Government, describing it as a “blatant dissemination of falsehoods and overt attempts at blackmail, clearly orchestrated to divert public attention from the genuine grievances of Anambra workers against the government”. 

It noted that issues raised by the NLC and Trade Union Congress in their letter which gave an ultimatum to the state government should be addressed.

NLC President, Joe Ajaero in an interview on AIT and through a letter notifying the state government of an impending industrial action, accused Governor Soludo of operating anti-worker policies.

Ajaero also accused the governor of inciting other state governors not to pay the N70,000 minimum wage proposed by the NLC.

He also issued a one-week ultimatum and strike notice over the purported failure to pay the 2019 National Minimum Wage of N30,000, unresolved contributory pension deductions, and the cessation of a N12,000 special palliative allowance.

But Soludo, through his Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, on Friday, said his administration had improved the welfare and working conditions of workers in the state.

Ajaero, in a statement issued on Sunday, said the NLC was committed to constructive engagement and dialogue with the government to address the grievances of workers in the state. 

He said, “We have received several complaints against the government of the state by its past and present leaders and have always deferred to the wishes of the leaders in the state as to the direction they may need our assistance. In this case, it should be noted that from our records that they had written your government letters of complaint on the issues they have canvassed as grievances and reached some understandings which the government has refused to implement. 

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“It was the refusal of the Government that propelled the workers to issue an ultimatum to compel compliance with the laws of our nation. To this ultimatum, we have given our maximum support from the national leadership and have thus communicated all of our affiliates to do the same in keeping with our traditions.”

The statement said contrary to the assertions made by the state government, Ajaero’s remarks were not intended to disparage the efforts of Governor Soludo or his administration. 

It said, “Rather, they were aimed at highlighting specific concerns regarding the implementation of labour-related policies and the resolution of vexatious issues affecting workers in the state. 

“This is unlike the unwholesome outburst from the Government making wild accusations using the clearly well worn-out and obsolete cliches of a phantom 2027 political ambition as a cover. We think the Government ought to show more respect and dignity to its workers and people by not allowing itself to be dragged into such desperate mudslinging in an attempt to divert Public’s attention. 

“As a Professor, we strongly believe that such gutter snipe ought not to have been allowed to proceed out of his administration.

“It is also imperative to address the discrepancies between the state government’s claims and the realities faced by workers on the ground. While the government highlights various initiatives and achievements, it is essential to recognize that there are still unresolved issues, including the payment of the 2019 National Minimum Wage, contributory pension deductions, and the cessation of special allowances including the Ndiolu Microfinance affair. 

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“That the Government acknowledges that there are issues which it claims to be outstanding is rather being economical with the truth. They are not outstanding but weighty and revolves around non-compliance with the Laws of the federation.

“The Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Wale Edun has also acknowledged that Governor Soludo’s government is in breach of the tenets of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act. The record of non-compliance is clear and despite the repeated efforts of the state leadership of Congress to get the Governor take steps to pay workers their due wages, the government has rather resorted to grandstanding and shifty expediency. 

“It is also a fact that the Government is deducting Pensions from workers’ salaries and has refused to remit to PFAs according to the 2014 Pension Act. It is important that we remind the Governor that this is a criminal breach of the Statutes which prescribes some years in prison or heavy fine or both for offenders which the Government has made itself to become one.

“We cannot therefore be talking about serious issues that border on the welfare of workers in the state and the Government seeks to wish it away with infantile insinuations. It will be a shame if the lives of workers in the state are not valued and the very things which make life worthwhile are robbed them by the actions of the state government. 

“We do not have any interests in how Soludo plays his politics or governs his state but we will be concerned and will take appropriate steps any time the government treats the workers in the state with disdain and contempt. Resorting to name-calling and wishful thinking as a means of engagement instead of reasonable and sane conversation begs the issues and clearly leaves Nigerians wondering whether this is Professor Chukwuma Soludo or somebody else.

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“The NLC maintains that constructive engagement and adherence to factual information are vital in resolving labour disputes. We urge the state government to refrain from dismissing legitimate concerns raised by the NLC and TUC but instead focus on finding mutually beneficial solutions through dialogue and negotiation. 

“We are mindful of sticking to the tenets of social dialogue as social partners and that is why the state council of NLC and TUC have endured the several abuses of the state Government against their rights all these years which the state Government has unfortunately refused to acknowledge.

“It is rather absurd that the state Government will claim not to be in receipt of the letter of grievance issued by its workers as represented by the NLC and TUC but also contradictorily alluded to its contents in its Press statement. Perhaps, the Government was clairvoyant. In any case, this demonstrates the extent to which a Government can go in trying to deceive the public and that shows the level of respect it has for Anambra workers and people. 

“It is important that Government should learn to show greater respect for its citizens who are the sovereign – the owners of the state by at least refusing to be dragged into the peddling of falsehood. The Government must demonstrate courage by taking that ‘simple step of a courageous individual by refusing to take part in the lie.’”

The NLC, therefore, called for greater transparency and accountability in addressing the concerns raised by Anambra state workers.”

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