NLC suspends Port Harcourt protest

The planned protest in Port Harcourt by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been called off following an agreement reached on Monday night by the Rivers State government and the NLC.

The protest, which was scheduled to take place Tuesday, was to be led by the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and other national leaders of the workers’ union.

The Rivers government, in the agreement, accepted, among other things, the implementation of the new national minimum wage and the payment of salaries to health workers withheld in 2017 as punishment for embarking on strike.

The government also accepted to unseal the NLC secretariat in Port Harcourt which was forcefully closed because of the industrial dispute.

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Tammy Danagogo, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government; Rufus Godwin, the Head of Service, Rivers State; and Paulinus Nsirim, the Commissioner for Information signed the agreement on behalf of the Rivers government, while Emmanuel Ugboaja, the Secretary General Secretary of NLC; Musa Lawal, Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress, and other local labour leaders signed for the workers.

The NLC president, Mr Wabba, earlier accused the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, of plotting a violent attack against the planned workers’ rally in the state.

“We have received very credible information that the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has mobilised two local government councils around Port Harcourt metropolis to engage armed thugs under the guise of putting up a counter-protest to the workers’ protest billed for Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in Port Harcourt,” Mr Wabba said in a statement.

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“The plan is to unleash violence on workers during our protest.”

The Rivers government, in a response by the Attorney-General, Zacchaeus Adangor, however, said there was a subsisting court order which restrained the NLC from protesting in the state.

The NLC president is a defendant in the suit which was filed at the National Industrial Court, Lagos, by the Rivers government, the attorney-general, Mr Adangor, said in a statement.

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“The case of the Government of Rivers State before the National Industrial Court is that the organized labour cannot declare a strike action in Rivers State without strict compliance with the conditions precedent prescribed in the Trade Disputes Act, Cap, T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Trade Unions Act, Cap. T14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” the Rivers government had said in its press statement.

“Our commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law in our State rather than rule by force, informed our decision to seek judicial redress against the organized labour.”

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