Wednesday, May 18, 2016 12:35 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The strike is largely flopped in Port Harcourt as schools, businesses are in full swing. At federal Secretariat in Port Harcourt, the gates are wide open. Workers are going about their normal duties. The federal Secretariat houses federal government workers like Customs, Immigration, NAFDAC. Banks, markets have opened for businesses in Port Harcourt.
Reports from Yenagoa, Bayelsa which is largely a Civil Service State, the strike is, however, enforced by labour leaders in the state.
In Bayelsa workers are owed for about four months. Labour Union leaders have locked the State Secretariat in Yenagoa in Bayelsa, while the Union leaders are going round offices in in the city.
As expected, there is a sharp division among the labour movements in Rivers State over the call for the strike. There is the Beatrice Ituboh, factional Chairperson of the Rivers State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC. Another faction is led by Adah Williams, both factions had separate May Day, the Workers Day ceremonies at different venues. Ada Williams and Beatrice Ituboh have been at loggerheads, fighting for the soul of NLC in state.
However, Beatrice Ituboh spoke live on radio this morning calling on workers, banks, market women to stay at home and join in the protests which she promised to mobilize.
When asked if NLC is not acting in disobedience of Court order, Ituboh fired back: “We are not aware of any court order. Throughout the time we were at meeting, till yesterday, we were not served any court order.
“Besides even if there was a court order, was there no court order stopping the increase in electricity tariff? Did government obey?”
On the threat by the federal government to implement no work no policy, Ituboh said: “The threat is not new to labour movements. The ones we have worked before have they paid? Are workers not owed across the country. After the strike they will pay.” Ituboh boasted.
On his part, the Chairman of Trade Union Congress, Rivers State, Chika Onuegbu, who was National Industry Secretary of Petroleum And Natural Gas Senior Staff Association Nigeria, PEGASSAN, disagreed with NLC. He said that the affiliate unions under TUC include (NUPENG, Construction Workers etc) understand the dynamics in the oil industry and petroleum business and understand what the government wants to achieve in deregulation of the downstream sector.
Onuegbu of TUC said the union will not join any strike. He called on workers to go about their businesses because those calling for the strike failed to suggest or find better alternative to the deregulation policy and removal of subsidy.
Onuegbu, as at 10.30am, had driven round Port Harcourt oil workers are on duty most offices are open including banks