By Patrick Obia
The meeting between the Organized Labor and the government of Cross River State to resolve the ongoing industrial action on Thursday ended in deadlock.
The five hours meeting between the government represented by the Head of Service (HOS), Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem and the delegation of the Organized Labor could not reach a compromise as Labor insisted issues affecting the generality of Cross River State workers are treated with levity by the government.
Some of the agitations of Labor are promotion of workers and payment of gratuity.
Others include the yearly incremental rate of workers be met, teachers allowances and welfare percentages be paid and implemented; pension for retirees, balance of 30% CONHESS for Health Workers; Cross Riverians employed by the present government who have gotten letters of first appointment and confirmation numbering about 1800 be payroll; government should honour agreement reached to pay the balance of national minimum wage and to as well do away with the clause of financial improvement before they can pay and, as well as issues relating to deductions, financial houses, loans and remittances should be critically looked into and domesticate the state payroll system.
In its Bulletin 12 dated October 28, 2021, the Organized Labor accused government of being lackadaisical in the welfare of workers in the State, stressing that, the government led by Sen. Ben Ayade spend “our commonwealth on bogus projects.”
They enjoined workers to “continue to stay at home until you hear from us.”
Bulletin reads in full “dear comrades, we wish to inform you, and Cross Riverians at large, that today’s meeting with the head of service and others from the government side ended in a deadlock.
“The government side appears not to be serious about the welfare of workers and retirees in the state. We cannot have Cross Riverians dying while our governor spends our commonwealth on bogus projects.
“Only the living can benefit from investment for the future. The governor is not ready to pay our retirees their gratuity, neither is he ready to implement workers promotion. Comrades, continue to stay at home until you hear from us.”
Meanwhile, the government resorted to propaganda by threatening to sue Labour for not obeying a court order. Recall, Labor had accused the government of fraudulently obtaining a court order and said it has filed processes to challenge the order of the Industrial Court which it said the court was misled.
In an undated and unsigned press release shared by aides of the Governor, the Special Adviser on Labour and productivity, Effiong Ita Umo threatened to take decisive action against the organized labor and claimed the action was politically motivated.
“The Cross River State government has described the ongoing industrial action by organised Labour in the state as politically motivated,” read the lede paragraph of the statement.
Umo said government had met 14 out of the 15 demands of labor and wondered why the rigid stance even as he expressed readiness to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with labour.
The government also accused labour of misinforming the public about what transpired in the last meeting.
“Labour’s conduct and utterances further give a flip to the insinuation that the industrial action it embarked upon has political undertone.
“How does one explain Labour’s continued obstinancy and rigidity even when government has met 14 of their demands with just one remaining? What explanation does Labour has for deliberately misinforming the public as regards its meeting with the government if not to score some cheap political goals?.
“For the avoidance of doubt, contrary to Labour’s claim, the meeting between it and government ended in a deadlock because labour representatives walked out of the meeting without reaching an understanding with the government.
“They failed to accept the fact that during negotiation, every action must be suspended to give room for normal ground. They also insisted on meeting with the Governor for negotiation instead of those the Governor had mandated to discuss with them,” part of the statement read.