Labour leaders in Abia State are sharply divided over the N14.152 billion bailout fund the state government received to clear backlog of salaries and pensions as both factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are not in agreement if the fund was enough to ease the burden of workers.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Uchenna Obigwe had last week alerted workers that the bailout would not be enough to cover the payment of gratuities because of a shortfall of N25 billion as “government applied for N39 billion but was given N14.152 billion”. He said, “we are praying for more bailout”, adding “if what is provided will pay gratuity, the governor will pay, because he has a human face, but we need about N25 billion additional to be able to conclusively pay gratuities”.
But the factional chairman of Abia NLC, Christopher Uche Ezekiel at a press conference in Umuahia on Friday faulted Obigwe’s claims, saying that it was a misrepresentation of the expectations of Abia workers.
He said that by wittingly positioning himself as spokesman of Abia government “Obigwe and his cohorts had sold the integrity of Abia workers and equally he had failed entire workers once again as a labour leader.
“We have just begun to doubt the credibility of the calculations and arithmetic of the committee over the bailout fund. We don’t think Comrade Obigwe is correct and neat in his recent press release by telling Abia workers that the bailout money is not enough”.
The factional NLC chairman loyal to the Joe Ajaero national leadership of NLC, regretted that Abia State government and its agencies had not recognised that NLC had two factions right from the national level.
He said that the state government should have taken cognisance of the existing labour factions in the composition of the bailout committee, adding that it was because only Obigwe’s faction was included thereby “discriminating” against the faction led by Ezekiel.
According to him, the state government should be relating with both factions pending the time the National Industrial Court (NIC) at Owerri would decide the matter concerning the leadership crisis in Abia labour.
He insisted that both Obigwe and those giving him recognition were guilty of court contempt because “Comrade Obigwe had two court orders, one from High Court Umuahia and the other from National Industrial Court holden at Owerri”.(Thisday)