Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has warned workers in the state against participating in the one-million march, to protest against the pension scheme deductions from their salaries.
Newsmen reports that the state government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Ebonyi chapter are currently in a face-off over the deductions which were effected in the workers’ February salaries.
Umahi gave the warning on Thursday in Abakaliki during a meeting with the leadership of the NLC, its affiliate unions, Local Government Area (LGA) caretaker chairmen and other stakeholders.
According to Umahi, government will resist the protest which is being planned by the State NLC Chairman, Mr Ikechukwu Nwafor.
“We hear that Nwafor is planning to organize a one million march against the government over the pension deductions but I know that not up to that number voted during the last elections.
“We will however, organize a three-million march if he goes on with his plan and those who want to protest are advised to do so in their houses.
“Any body who marches on the streets should brace for government’s action as we would not fold our hands and allow anybody or group destroy the government,” he said.
The governor directed all public office holders to monitor Nwafor’s activities and battle him to a standstill, in order to ensure he does not destabilize the government.
“Nwafor should join a political party if he wishes and let us know, as I have tolerated him and his activities enough and would no longer do so.
“I don’t want to talk about our private relationship because I am not unpatriotic but if I expose you further, workers and your fellow labour leaders will stone you.
He directed that the buses donated by the government to the NLC to convey workers to their duty-posts be withdrawn and given to the state’s branch of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Junior Workers Association should also be given the buses as they should be non-profit oriented with a token paid for fuelling.
“The state’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission should investigate if the Nwafor-led NLC commercialized the buses and immediately prosecute him if found guilty.
“I will no longer recognize the NLC leadership in the state as workers should look beyond the labour leadership because it is no longer fashionable,” he said.
Nwafor in his reaction, said that labour faulted section 12 of the state pension scheme law which stipulates that the employer would make a contribution of five per cent while the employee makes eight per cent.
“This is however not in line with the circular issued by the state head of service which stipulates that the state government would make contribution of ten per cent.
“We immediately wrote and informed him that procedures in the national pension scheme law were not followed especially in the model for states to key-into the contributory pension scheme,” he said.
Mr Joseph Nweke, the state Chairman of the NUT absolved the union of any condemnation of the government’s agricultural programme for workers, noting that teachers direly needed it.
“We earnestly desire to participate in the programme to enable us engage in activities that would augment our meager income which is not enough to solve our needs,” he said.