Government activities in Cross River State were paralysed, yesterday, as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNC) commenced an indefinite strike.
The unions embarked on the industrial action to drive home their 14-point demands in a letter signed by NLC Chairman, Ben Ukpebi, his TUC and TNC counterparts, Monday Ogbodum and Godwin Otei.
They are exploring the strike option over non-implementation of the 27.5 per cent teacher’s enhancement allowance, lack of promotions, non-remittance of deductions from banks and non-implementation of minimum wage, among others.
Government offices and all tertiary institutions in the state were locked as labour mounted watch at various entry points of workplaces.
Secondary and primary schools were also affected by the strike, as some teachers and school workers were chased back homes, just as The Guardian sighted some students returning home.
The unions stressed that the strike became inevitable, as the state government had ignored reminders and ultimatums they gave earlier, insisting that the industrial action was their last resort.
Reacting to the strike, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Labour Matters, Effiong Umoh, said the labour unions’ action was wrong because there was no court order backing them.
“Labour should not have mobilised its members to down tools and cripple the state government’s activities without any court order empowering them to do so.
“Most of their demands have already been met, except payment of gratuity. Labour gave us three days warning on Thursday, so we requested for a meeting with them, but they refused,” he said.
On whether or not the state government has plans to seek redress in court, Umoh said: “How can we go to court when we have not yet exhausted all avenues of dialogue?