The Cross River State government has appealed to civil servants in the state to call off their strike, saying it is uncalled for, since it has met all their demands.
Addressing Government House media in Calabar Thursday, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs Tina Bankor Agbor, urged the striking workers to consider the interest of the state and return to work. She said no staff will be victimized for doing so.
Accompanied during the briefing by the state Head of Service, Barr Ekpenyong Henshaw, the SSG said the strike was “unnecessary, especially coming at a time that government, in spite of the dwindling federal monthly allocation, has remained committed to making workers welfare a priority.”
According to Agbor, government had in a letter dated 14 June, 2017 to the state civil service commission, conveyed the approval of the governor for the promotion of civil servants even when, “for six years, there was no promotion.”
She said “while other states were suffering from the syndrome of no salaries, the governor has consistently ensured prompt payment of salaries to workers and sometimes even before the due date,” adding that, “the governor’s unprecedented magnanimity in appointing 31 new permanent secretaries also created vacancies for directors in the various MDAs.”
According to the SSG, “Having shown such magnanimity and benevolence, it is expected that Labour should reciprocate the governor’s goodwill and ensure that workers put in their best and discharge their duties as expected of them.”
In a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the organized labour on May 30th, 2017, it was agreed that, “the promotion of deserving civil/public servants shall resume forthwith and letters released while financial implications will be worked out by the Head of Service and Commissioner for Finance for implementation.”
Agbor regretted that even after the governor had given approval for the promotion of workers, the organised labour still decided to call out workers on strike.
She reminded the workers that they must work to earn their pay.
Commenting, the state Head of Service, Henshaw, hinted that it was legally wrong for government’s establishments to be placed under lock and key by persons suspected to be labour.
“It is their right as Labour Union to call out workers for strike, but it is legally wrong for people who have made themselves unavailable to lock government offices,” Henshaw said.
Continuing, Henshaw said: “There are people who cannot go on strike, there must be opportunities for them to take action that will help solve the issues on ground. Like in the New Secretariat Complex, there is the IRS and other financial institutions, when you lock the gate you bar people from transacting their businesses. So, leave government offices alone and open them for those with legitimate businesses.”
The Head of Service wondered why relations with labour should go sour when the governor, Prof Ben Ayade had always seen the welfare and salaries of civil servants as a priority with labour’s recognition of Ayade as the most labour friendly in Africa.
He stressed the fact that “the safety of workers is guaranteed as they return back to discharge their lawful duties.”