GOVERNOR of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has charged the labour union in Nigeria to defend the country’s democracy saying that if there was any time Nigerian workers should have risen in defense of democracy, it was now.
The Governor gave the charge at the Yakubu Gown Stadium, Port Harcourt yesterday while addressing Rivers workers made up of the affiliate unions of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Wike who expressed disappointment in labour for suddenly losing its voice in the midst of the many anti-democratic policies and actions of the APC Federal Government described the silence as a conspiracy pointing out that it does not augur well for the growth and democracy in Nigeria.
“Labour is quiet in the face of deaths. Of what benefit will increment of salaries be when all your children, friends and relatives are killed in the course of this national insecurity? It is incumbent on labour to rise up in defence of Nigerians by demanding for the immediate cessation of killings”, the governor stated.
He said Labour has a duty to work towards the progress of Nigeria as they battle for their welfare urging that labour must rekindle their pre-2015 posture when they participated in “Occupy Nigeria” protest during the Jonathan era.
“Be vigilant and defend our democracy in 2019. That is what labour is known for. Labour thrives under democracy. Without democracy, labour will run into challenges “, he said.
He promised to resolve to the many unsettled issues raised by the NLC and TUC, especially those bothering on the contributory pension scheme, the contributory health scheme and the issue of payment of gratuity to retired workers in the state urging labour leaders and affected workers to be patient with the government.
“I have no joy that people are not receiving their gratuities”, the governor stated, saying he would work with the NLC and TUC in the state to ensure that the welfare of workers were not toyed with.
He pointed out that the government was concerned about the high level of unemployment in the state and has, therefore, pursued an agenda to consistently grow the state’s economy and improve the employment situation of the state.
He explained that that was why the state introduced the monthly revolving non-interest loan for Civil servants of grade levels 1-13 saying that the scheme has an annual package of N1.2-billion.
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He added that there was a similar scheme for small businesses with the total annual package of N2.4-billion with a monthly disbursement of N200-million urging those qualified and need the loan to apply for it to boost their businesses, improve their income and also the economy of the state.
In her address, Rivers State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mrs Beatrice Otubo commended the Rivers State Governor for his regular payment of salaries and pensions.
She urged the governor to take steps to resolve the challenges surrounding the contributory pension scheme and gratuity to retired civil servants.
The Labour Leader also commended Governor Wike for his outstanding developmental strides.
Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in Rivers State, Mr Austin Jonah lauded the Rivers State Governor for his numerous infrastructural and development projects across the state.
The Workers Day was marked by the parade by all the affiliate trade unions in the state, with Governor Wike taking the official salute.
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