The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have threatened to down tools in Rivers State over the alleged maltreatment of its members in the state.
The unions are accusing the Rivers State government of using hired thugs to harass workers. They plan to stage a protest on the 8 of September.
The NLC and TUC are also expected to meet to discuss the issue of electricity tariff hike and increase in fuel price.
The Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress had last month accused Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike of intimidation after their officials were prevented from holding its meeting at its temporary office in Rumuagholu, Obio/Akpor Local government Area.
The state Chairman of the Union, Beatrice Itubo who confirmed the development said some men walked into their office claiming to be acting on orders from above and warned them against holding their meeting at the venue after which it was locked up.
However, the NLC members proceeded to an undisclosed venue to hold their meeting which was aimed at uniting with the members of the United Labour Congress who has agreed to close ranks with the NLC.
Itubo wondered why the labour leaders would be prevented from holding their meeting at their office.
The Labour leader also said the government of the day should be held responsible if anything happens to any labour leader in Rivers State.
“As we were gathering to hold our meeting two men came to us. One of them introduced himself as the Councilor representing Ward 7 in Obio-Akpor, that they have a directive not to allow us hold our meeting in our office. They said that was the instruction they got from above.
“We were still trying to talk with them and before we knew it some more young boys arrived the place and started banging our vehicles and even pushed some of our workers saying we cannot hold our meeting.
“I don’t know when our state drifted to the level where people can no longer meet and discuss their problems.
“For God’s sake are we not supposed to meet as Labour members. They have locked the Secretariat that they said they built for us and this one that is our own they will still not allow us to meet.
“We don’t know why they don’t want Labour to meet. This is not the only Labour that has problems with its state government. There are several states with issues but they are lobbying.
“I want to put it on record that should anything happen to any Labour leader in Rivers State at this given time, the Governor of the state should be called to answer for it because he has resorted to unleashing his arsenals to haunt us. He has begun to bring his bad boys to attack us and we are aware.
“The Federal government should be aware, the international community should be aware that if anything should happen to any Labour leader in Rivers State, the Governor should be held”.
Recall that NLC secretariat located at the D-Line area of Port Harcourt was sealed in February over minimum wage face-off with the Rivers State Government.
Rivers State Government sealed the NLC secretariat due to demands by labour to immediately reconvene the minimum wage committee to address the issue of the minimum wage.
Itubo had insisted that Rivers State Government employees were yet to be paid the agreed minimum wage.
Rivers NLC had lamented the discrepancies in the payment of the new minimum wage by Wike’s administration.
They also accused the government of rushing to implement the new minimum wage without a signed agreement between the state government and labour.
The sealed state secretariat of NLC in Port Harcourt was donated by Wike’s administration, to replace the dilapidated structure.
Itubo had asked workers in the state to be on the alert and await further directive on the minimum wage, declaring that indifference of the Wike’s administration would no longer be tolerated.
But Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, the state commissioner for information and communication stated in February that the state’s NLC should be ready to face “dire consequences,” if it made good the threat over minimum wage while accusing the leadership of becoming tools in the hands of unnamed politicians.
Nsirim said that “Rivers State government has commenced the payment of the new minimum wage for employees of the state public service with the consequential salary adjustments as approved by the Federal Government, and will not be deterred by cheap blackmail.
“Governor Wike remains committed to workers’ welfare and will not allow the activities of a few disgruntled elements to dissuade his resolve to serve the people.”