The statewide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Imo State to protest unpaid wages and violations of workers among others, has thrown Owerri, the state capital, and other parts of the state into darkness.
But Imo State government described NLC’s action as a deliberate and calculated plan to disrupt the smooth running of the state.
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Already, members of Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, have stopped bringing petroleum products into the state.
The State Administrative Committee, SAC, led by its Chairman, George Ofoegbu, who is coordinating the strike, said most of the ministries have been shut down.
According to him,
As we speak, electricity supply to the state has been shut down since yesterday (Wednesday), petroleum products supply by PTD has ceased, and filling stations are currently being closed. Owerri Airport has been closed, meaning, that no flight takes off or comes into the Airport.
Ministries, Agencies and Departments have closed offices.Colleges of Education, Universities and Polytechnics led by National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT,Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union,COEASU, and others have fully complied.
However, a staff of one of the airlines, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said,
We actually received communication from our parent union about the indefinite industrial action. The strike is supposed to have commenced 12 midnight, Wednesday.
However, only Air Peace Airline operated its flight to the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, SMICA, today (yesterday). The other airlines, including that of my employer, did not fly into Owerri today (yesterday). This is the only thing I can tell you for now. I don’t know what it will look like tomorrow (today).
Recall that NLC had Wednesday declared an indefinite over among others, alleged 20 months salary arrears owed to some workers stigmatised as ghost workers, declaration of about 11,000 workers in the state as ghost workers even while they were physically at work and diversion of their salaries, and intimidation and harassment of Trade Union leaders; a witch hunt carried out in different guises.
Others include continuous use of instrument of violence against workers in the state as was furthered in the terror of yesterday (Tuesday), impoundment and illegal diversion of Union dues in the state, declaration of about 10,000 pensioners as ghost Pensioners and refusing to pay them for over 22 months leading to the death of many, harassment and intimidation of the entire workforce with constant threats of violence and sack and the resort to blackmail and falsehood through the Information Commissioner of the state whose infamous role as an attack dog of the administration has not only scuttled reasonable and effective social dialogue but has also brought the state to ridicule.
Reacting to the allegations by Ajaero that the government meddled in the botched election of the state chapter of NLC, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba accused Ajaero of lying to cover his “dirty role in the sordid affair”.
Apart from being a pathological liar, availble information to government is that it was Ajaero himself that actually disrupted the election because he wanted to impose his stooge on the workers.