The Cross River Government has directed striking workers in the state to return to work or face severe sanctions.
The Head of Service, Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem, in a Press statement on Tuesday evening directed the workers to resume.
The statement reads, “Following the industrial action embarked on by organised labour in the state on Tuesday, 12th October, 2021, the state government has directed all Permanent Secretaries and workers to return to work with effect from tomorrow, Wednesday, 13th October, 2021 at 8am. This is to enable the relevant officers facilitate completion of payment of salaries of civil servants who are yet to be paid.
“All civil servants are please directed to adhere strictly to this directive as failure to comply will attract severe sanctions.”
The state and local government workers had begun an indefinite strike on Tuesday to press home their demands.
The strike paralysed the judiciary and other public institutions.
The gates of the state judiciary headquarters on Mary Slessor Avenue in Calabar were shut while lawyers, judges and litigants could not enter the complex.
Lawyers at the gates declined to comment on the strike, which took some of them unawares.
Public schools were also shut and students asked to return home. Old and the New secretariats were also locked. Labour leaders were seen going round to enforce and monitor compliance.
The workers are protesting against alleged anti-worker policies by the Prof.Ben Ayade-led government.
Reacting to the strike, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Labour Matters, Comrade Effiong Ita Umoh, said it was wrong for labour to embark on strike action without exhausting all avenues to resolve the issues.
According to him, “Labour couldn’t have called out its members to down their tools and cripple activities of the state government without any court order to do so.
“Most of the items in their list had already been met, except gratuity. Labour gave us three days warning on Thursday, so we asked them to sit down but they refused, saying that they won’t sit down for anything and they walked out. We have not yet exhausted all avenues.”
He said his office was aware of the threat by the labour leaders to go on strike, adding that while the government was still preparing to respond to the threat, the labour unions went ahead to call its members out to begin strike.
In an earlier statement by Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ben Ukpepi; and the state Trade Union Congress Chairman, Monday Ogbodum, and four other officials, the workers listed their demands and grievances to include implementation of promotions of both state and local government workers, non remittance of deductions from workers’ salaries, full implementation of minimum wage to both state and local government workers, and non implementation of full 27.5% teachers enhancement allowance.
Others include, stoppage of tax exemption and allowance for teachers, payment of hazard allowances for medical and health workers, inclusion of all staff employed but not yet on the payroll, reinstatement of pensioners wrongly removed from payroll, non payment of gratuities to both state and local government workers, among other demands.