Gov Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State

The organised labour in Abia on Saturday announced an indefinite suspension of its planned industrial action over state government’s failure to clear the arrears of workers’ salaries and pensions.

The leadership of the organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), had on Aug. 8 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the state government to address the problem of unpaid arrears of workers’ salaries and pensions in the state.

It threatened to embark on a warning strike at the expiration of the ultimatum on Friday.

In a swift reaction to the ultimatum, the state government set up a seven-member committee, headed by the Head of Service, Mr Onyii Wamah, “to articulate and come out with modalities on how to clear the outstanding arrears.”

But in a statement jointly signed by Uchenna Obigwe, Chris Okoro and Sunny Onwuma, the Chairmen of NLC, TUC and JNC, respectively, and issued to newsmen in Umuahia, labour resolved to postpone the warning strike.

In an interview with newsmen, Obigwe said that labour would rather allow the committee to complete its work, adding that the implementation of the anticipated report would guide labour on what next to do.

The four-paragraph statement read, among other things: “That the organised labour in Abia met with Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu in respect of the ultimatum.

“That contrary to the unsubstantiated rumour, the Abia government affirmed that it had not received any new tranche of the Paris Club refund.

“That the handling of the outcome of the report of the committee will determine labour’s next line of action.”

Other members of the committee were the Accountant-General of the State, Mr Kelechi Imeorie, and Dr ACB Agbazuere, a former Chairman of NLC in the state, in addition to the chairmen of NLC, TUC and JNC.

It was gathered that workers in some government agencies and parastatal organisations, including primary and secondary school teachers and Abia College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu, were owed arrears, ranging from three to 18 months.

Also, only a few selected pensioners were paid last in November 2017, while gratuities were last paid in 1999.