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Government activities at state and local government levels in Abia were grounded on Tuesday as workers refused to show up at their duty posts in protest over the lingering issue of unpaid salaries, pensions, and gratuities.
The strike which officially commenced at 12-midnight yesterday, was at the instance of the State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in what was considered a final showdown with the outgoing administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Speaking on a radio programme on Tuesday morning in Umuahia, the State Chairman of NLC, Paschal Nweke, said the timing of the strike was immaterial even though the Ikpeazu administration was already winding down.
He stressed that what was uppermost in the minds of workers was for the state government to make efforts and start offsetting the salary arrears.
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‘We are not saying that they(government) should pay the entire backlog, but start from somewhere,’ he said, adding, ‘whether they have one day or three days(left) we want our salary’.
The state labour leader said workers in various parastatals were being owed up to 15 months, citing the Abia State University Teaching Hospital( ABSUTH), Aba, Abia State Polytechnic Aba, Abia Line Transport Company, among others.
He said though government had in March, made efforts to pay local government workers, it was like a drop of water in the ocean as teachers and another category of workers have not been paid.
The national leadership of NLC had in February directed Abia workers to embark on indefinite strike to compel the state government to clear the backlog of salaries. It was paused after five days to allow for negotiations.
Having waited without making headway in the negotiations, the NLC leadership in Abia decided to reactivate the paused industrial action apparently to make last ditch efforts to make Ikpeazu pay them some months of salary arrears.
In a letter signed by the State Secretary of Abia NLC, Emma Alozie, addressed to all industrial unions in Abia, workers were directed to resume the indefinite strike.