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Organized labour heads for showdown with Rivers Government

The Labour Movement in Rivers State is spoiling for a showdown with the State Government over the proposed contributory health insurance scheme for state civil servants.

The development is sequel to queries issued to three labour leaders by the state government, including the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Beatrice Itubo.

Others who were also queried are the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Austin Jonah and the State Chairman of the Joint Public Negotiating Council, Chukwu Emecheta.

newsmen gathered that the labour leaders were accused of inciting civil servants to reject the proposed healthcare policy of the Rivers State government.

According to a letter sighted by a reporter, the labour leaders were given forty-eight hours to respond to the query.

Reacting to the development, the State Chairman of the NLC, Beatrice Itubo accused the Head of Service, Rufus Godwin of instigating the query.

Itubo maintained that she only addressed the workers as the State Chairman of NLC, stressing that the Head of Service did not have to right to query her activities as a labour leader.

Beatrice Itubo also disclosed that the Rivers State Executive Council of the NLC had summoned a meeting on Thursday to agree on the next line of action to counter the State Government.

Itubo said, “From this letter, you can see that it is because of the position of the workers on Health Protection Scheme. If I don’t protect my health is it by force? The ones we have been contributing what have they done with it?

“We are into National Housing Scheme and every month they have been deducting. Mortgage Bank confided in us that they have given out forms for workers to fill-out so that they can get a one million loan to enable them embark on one project or the other but he is hoarding forms and today we are coming to talk to the workers and he is writing query against us.

“We are not against the State government but we are against the Head of Service because he does not mean well for us.

“His stay there is costing more to the government than the value he is adding to that office.

“To them, they may think they want to intimidate Labour but they should know that Labour cannot be intimidated.”

Similarly, the Trade Union Congress in Rivers State has issued a three-day ultimatum to the State Government to withdraw the query against its Chairman.

The TUC warned that if the government failed to heed the demand, its members would have to withdraw their services.

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