Two labour leaders in Abia have charged the state government to provide Personal Protective Equipment free of charge for civil servants ahead of the planned relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown and partial resumption of work.
The state chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, Chief Uchenna Obigwe and Mr Sunday Onwuma, made the call in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria in Umuahia on Friday.
They spoke against the background of this year’s Workers’ Day and the move by the government to relax the lockdown and resumption of work in the state.
Obigwe urged the state government to provide workers with hand sanitisers, nose masks, hand gloves, water and soap for regular handwashing and other necessary protective devices against the virus.
“I advise the state government to begin a procedure to relax the lockdown for the economy to begin the process of bouncing back.
“While government does that , it should put the necessary measures on ground by providing PPE for workers.
The state NLC boss urged workers to observe all the WHO precautionary measures against the spread of the pandemic, including keeping away from crowd and observing social distancing.
Also, Onwuma expressed the hope that Abia workers would triumph over the pandemic, saying, “it is our prayer on this year’s Workers’ Day, that we will not lose any worker to COVID-19.”
He thanked the state government for beginning the payment of April salaries, in spite of the lockdown.
He, however, warned against the arbitrary deductions in workers’ salaries, saying that such deductions could only happen after proper explanations and consultation with the organised labour.
He said that workers would miss the celebrations that usually came with workers day, saying, “we definitely missed the celebration but it is our prayer that next year will provide us the opportunity for greater celebration.”
The unionists further appealed to the state government to urgently start the payment of 2018 leave allowance to workers.
They also demanded the implementation of new promotions to ensure that workers, who were promoted to next grade levels, were paid the salaries of their new postion.
“It is painful and psychologically demoralising that a worker will sit for promotion exam, pass and get promoted to the next grade level, yet three years after, the person still receives old salary, Onwuma said.
Obigwe and Onwuma said that the best lockdown palliative for workers would be the payment of their outstanding leave allowances and promotion entitlements.
Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)