Abia Labour Leaders Move to End Indefinite Strike Ahead of Otti’s Inauguration

Abia governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti receiving Abia workers' charter of demand from Abia NLC Chairman, Comrade Pascal Nweke

 

It has emerged that leaders of the organised labour in Abia State are on the verge of calling off the indefinite strike that has paralysed government activities for over two weeks.

Signs that the industrial action would be paused became clearer following a meeting between the leadership of the Abia State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the governor-elect of the state, Dr. Alex Otti.

The Abia Chairman of NLC, Comrade Pascal Nweke on Friday led a delegation of labour leaders on a courtesy visit to Otti at his country home in Nvosi, Isialangwa. The labour leaders not only held discussions with the incoming governor but also presented their charter of demands to him.

At the end of the meeting the labour leaders gave their word that they would consult the national leadership of NLC and get back to Otti before his inauguration on Monday, May 29, 2023.

During the meeting with the labour leaders, Otti reiterated his campaign promise to prioritise the issue of salary payments as well as ensure that the arrears are cleared within the shortest time frame.

The strike which began on May 9 was a continuation of an earlier which was suspended in February after five days to allow for a negotiated settlement, which didn’t happen.

Abia workers resorted to the industrial action to press home their demands for the outgoing government of Okezie Ikpeazu to pay part of the salary arrears owed workers, especially those in parastatals,  agencies and local governments.

But with barely 48 hours to its expiry date, the outgoing government has left the angry workers with no doubt that it would not be able to meet the demands for them to return to work.

The embattled leaders of the Abia State NLC, therefore reached out to the governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti, who would be inaugurated on May 29 to find a way out of the impasse.

The Coordinator of the Alex Otti Inaugural Committee, Hon Iheanacho Obioma had earlier faulted the timing of the industrial action, saying that it was not the right way for workers to welcome the incoming administration.

He appealed to the Abia workers to call off their strike before the inauguration of the governor-elect as a sign of good faith and solidarity given Otti’s pledge to put back smiles on their faces.

The strike in Abia was ab initio commenced at the instance of the national leadership of NLC which in February declared an indefinite strike in Abia State to compel Governor Ikpeazu to offset the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities owed civil servants.