Hundreds of angry local government workers in Imo State yesterday stormed the state headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Owerri to protest against their unlawful sack by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
The workers’ sack followed an unsuccessful move to sack about 3, 000 civil servants in the state last year after they were deemed to be redundant.
The workers, who carried placards with various inscriptions matched to office of the NLC on Edede Street from where they marched to the office of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) at the state secretariat.
Presenting their grievances to the state chairmen of the NLC and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, the chairman of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Oru East, who was also affected by the sack, Comrade Ngozichukwu Chikwendu, said they received the suspension letters on January 15 but had been waiting for the state NULGE chairman, Mr. Ucheghara Ndubuisi and his executive council to act on their behalf but to no avail.
He urged the NLC to intervene in the matter as they had been denied salaries since January. Reacting, the state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpu, thanked them for their maturity and peaceful disposition. According to Chilakpu, “the leadership of the organized labour had met with the governor over the issue and the governor had agreed to set up a committee to look into the matter.”
Chilakpu however expressed dismay that the said committee was yet to commence work while the Local Government Service Commission went ahead to issue suspension letters to workers instead of maintaining the status quo.
He insisted that there are no ghost workers in Imo local government areas, because “if the government termed this number of workers as ghost workers because their attendance to duty was not up to 60 per cent in 2016, he should remember that he initiated a new policy directing workers to come to work only three times in a week while they use the remaining two days for farms.”
The NLC boss described the state government’s action as alien to public service rules, insisting that there are laid down rules on how to sack workers, even as he urged the victims to go about their normal duties as the organised labour would continue to push their case. Also speaking, the state chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Alloy Iwuanyanwu maintained that the purported sack was an act of victimization.