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Labour chides Rivers government over pension payment, car gift to judges

The organised labour in Rivers State has threatened that its members will soon be sleeping on the streets of Port Harcourt over alleged insincerity and high-handedness by the state government.

The union accused the state government of refusing to pay pensioners, who have completed the biometric process, Federal Government’s approved minimum wage, as well as locking its secretariat seven months after it claimed it was carrying out integrity test when no work was going on.

The aggrieved labour leaders, Frederick Waje and Matins Olaibe, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the state’s chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) respectively, who spoke at the weekend in Port Harcourt during a radio programme monitored by The Guardian, said it was disheartening for Governor Nyesom Wike to happily spend over N3 billion in buying 41 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for judges in the state’s judiciary while workers in the state languish in hunger.

The duo noted that there had been various car gifts in the past that were worth billions of naira.

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They dismissed government’s claim that it had paid the new minimum wage to workers, saying it was impossible to pay minimum wage without a template and documents to provide evidence.

But in a swift reaction, however, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paulinus Nsirim, said the governor is labour-friendly and not owing the workers.

Nsirim, who described the labour leaders as members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that will never appreciate the good works of the governor, said: “There is nothing this government is owing as Wike was the first to pay minimum wage. The people speaking are APC members and that is why there is nothing the governor will do that will please them.

“There is no pensioner who has completed the biometric process and has not been paid. Anyone that completes the process is enrolled into the scheme and gets paid.”

However, his responses caused a spark in the studio, as the union leaders appeared more aggrieved, saying that he (Nsirim) was paid to peddle lies and speak for government.

They said: “We are employed to man machine in the company but he (Nsirim) is employed to speak for government.”

The leaders vowed that there would be no going back on the union’s decision to occupy the streets of Port Harcourt if their demands are not considered urgently.

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