Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Five days after it declared an indefinite strike in Abia State over backlog of salary arrears owed workers, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Friday, suspended the industrial action.
The suspension followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the State Government and Labour on how to defray the backlog of salary and pension arrears owed workers and pensioners in the state.
The MoU was jointly signed by Secretary to State Government (SSG); Head of Service, Sir Onyii Wamah (on behalf of Government); and the Assistant Secretary General of NLC, Comrade Chris Onyeka; Chairman of NLC in the state, Comrade Eze Idima; and Comrade I. N Ekwenye on behalf of Joint Public Service Negotiating Council.
According to the MoU, parties agreed that Government would embark on staff audit of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba, ABSUTH, to ascertain the valid nominal roll of the institution.
Modalities for payment of the arrears were to be agreed upon by Government and the audit team after the verification.
The parties also agreed that the outstanding two months salary arrears for November and December 2020 would be paid alongside March and April 2023 salaries by paying two months each.
In the MoU, Government is to take urgent steps to address payment of outstanding leave allowances of workers; and to commence the implementation of CONHESS for Local Government health workers.
NLC, had on Monday, declared indefinite strike in Abia over backlog of salary arrears owed doctors in ABSUTH; and Hospital Management Board, HMB, as well as teachers and pensioners.
The Labour union, had in a statement signed by the National President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, identified the following as reasons for the strike:
“23 months salary arrears for staff of ABSUTH; HMB – 13 months; secondary school teachers – 11 months; primary school teachers – three months; pensioners – 30 months; and Abia Polytechnic staff – 30 months.
“29 months of arrears for workers in Abia State College of Education; workers in Abia College of Health Sciences – five months; and unpaid pension from January to November 2019 – 11 months;” among others.
There has been public outcry over the indefinite strike which has literally paralysed virtually every sector of the state.
Since the strike commenced, public power supply had been cut off through out the state, thus causing a lot of discomfort in many homes.
Borehole operators could not pump water following power outage, a development that has made life miserable in the state.