Owerri,the Imo State capital was yesterday shut down by members of Organised Labour protesting Governor Rochas Okorocha’s threat to relieve 5,000 workers of their jobs in the civil service.
The protesting workers, joined by the national officers of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), members of industrial unions from South-East and South-South in solidarity, caused traffic jam as they marched round major roads of Owerri metropolis, displaying placards with various inscriptions such as “we cannot be intimidated by Okorocha, enough is enough, let Imo workers be and salary is our right not privilege.”
During the 2016 budget presentation to the House of Assembly, Governor Okorocha announced that the government had concluded plans to disengage about 5,000 workers to reduce the wage bill of the government.
However, addressing the National President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and his entourage at the Government House, Okorocha said he appreciated the concern of the leaders of the NLC,but that the labour leaders were obviously misinformed about the conditions of the workers.
The governor said: “I appreciate the concern of the national leaders of the NLC, but you must have been misinformed about the situation in Imo State because this government is anchored on the welfare of the people.
“I am the first governor in the entire country to pay workers N20,000 minimum wage when others are paying N18,000 and I have paid workers on the 18th of every month in the past four years but the labour leaders last year instigated workers to embark on strike when the government owed them just one month which was really unnecessary.”
Okorocha accused the workers of not only being ungrateful but acted as opposition members and not partners with the state government, insisting that no worker is owed salary except workers of Adapalm because of issues arising from their employment which the state government is trying to resolve.
He further noted that the state Chairman of NLC, Austin Chilakpu, instead of working closely with the government has been instigating the workers.
Speaking earlier, Wabba said the NLC was in the state to intervene in the situation.