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Anambra govt denies allegations of anti-workers policies by NLC

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The government of Anambra State has denied recent allegations made by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, during an interview on AIT television and through a letter of notice of industrial action.

Comrade Ajaero had accused governor Chukwuma Soludo of anti-worker policies and alleged incitement of other Nigerian state governors against the payment of the proposed N70, 000 minimum wage.

He further issued a week’s ultimatum and strike notice over the purported failure to pay the 2019 National Minimum Wage of N30,000, unresolved contributory pension deductions, and the cessation of a N12,000 special palliative allowance.

But in a swift rebuttal, the state government in a statement signed by the spokesman to the governor, Christian Aburime, dismissed these allegations and highlighted the commendable strides Mr Soludo has made in improving the welfare and working conditions of Anambra State workers since he assumed office in March, 2022.

The statement reads, “In fact, at no time did Governor Soludo incite or influence other state governors against paying the proposed N70, 000 minimum wage. Instead, he has always been sensitive to the welfare of workers. Even as the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, he was quite responsive to staff wellbeing.

“Meanwhile, some of his government’s labour-friendly policies and achievements over the past two years as state governor include the following:

“Increase in Salaries: Governor Soludo was the first governor in Nigeria to approve a 10% increase in workers’ salaries in December 2022, just few months he assumed office as governor without prompting, demonstrating his commitment to improving the financial well-being of state employees.

“Payment of Pensions and Gratuities:*
Under Governor Soludo’s administration, pensioners have been receiving their dues promptly. The state government has consistently paid arrears of pensions and gratuities of workers in the civil service, including paying gradually the backlog inherited from previous administrations.

“Employment Initiatives: Thousands of teachers have been hired to enhance the quality of education in Anambra State, including 5,000 teachers recruited in one fell swoop. Another batch of 3,000 teachers are currently being employed. Additionally, Governor Soludo abolished tuition fees in public schools, from primary to JSS3, ensuring that education is accessible to all children in the state, thereby relieving civil servants of parental financial burdens.

“Healthcare Improvements: Recognising the importance of healthcare, the state government has recruited 1000 of medical personnel including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. This move has significantly improved the healthcare services available to Anambra State civil servants.

“Palliative Measures: In response to alleviating the pains of the fuel subsidy removal, the state government last year provided an additional N12, 000 monthly allowance to state workers for four (4) months, from September to December, 2023. This action, which was planned to be temporary due to limited state resources, underscores the governor’s responsiveness to the immediate needs of workers.

“Prompt Salary Payments: The administration has maintained a record of paying salaries promptly on the 25th of every month, ensuring that state workers can rely on their income to meet their needs without delays.

“Career Progression: The state government has invested in the training of civil servants, such as 152 drivers and technical staff, enabling them to advance in their careers, adding value to our state’s civil service.

“Small Business Support: The Soludo government has provided funds to the Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA) to facilitate the formation of cooperative groups among civil servants, thus allowing them to access soft loans

“Healthcare Accessibility: The state government has allocated funds to the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA), enabling civil servants to access quality healthcare services and become a healthy workforce.

“Free Antenatal Care: The implementation of Governor Soludo’s free antenatal care policy has been advantageous for our female civil servants of childbearing age as they and their newborns receive comprehensive care without incurring any costs.

“Solar Installation: The ongoing installation of solar panels at the State Secretariat Complex will significantly improve power supply and enhance productivity within the civil service.

“Infrastructural Development: The government focus on infrastructural development, particularly road construction, has had a positive impact on civil servants. They can now reside outside the state capital, where the cost of living is lower, and still commute to work conveniently due to improved road networks.

“Water Scheme: The state government is reintroducing a water scheme in the state capital, ensuring that workers including civil servants have access to clean, drinkable water, thus promoting their well-being.

“Setting-up of Technical Committee to review the operations of Ndiolu Bank: The Soludo government has set up a team of financial and legal experts to study the operations and management structures of Ndiolu Microfinance Bank in order to determine the status of the workers and what is due to the workers as contributory pensions.

“Yet, despite the foregoing achievements, the Anambra State Government remains committed to addressing all outstanding issues raised by the NLC. Efforts are already underway to resolve the issue of contributory pension deductions while the agreed 2019 National Minimum Wage of N30, 000 is already being paid.

“Governor Soludo urged the NLC and all workers in the state to recognise the substantial progress and numerous initiatives undertaken by his administration to enhance worker welfare and human capital development. The proposed strike is unnecessary and counterproductive at this juncture, as it might seem like the NLC leadership is being politically influenced by desperate external actors to orchestrate an artificial industrial crisis in Anambra State.

“The state government is open to meaningful dialogue and collaboration with the NLC to address any concerns amicably. We assure the NLC and all Anambra State workers that their demands and issues are being diligently addressed.

“Governor Soludo’s administration is dedicated to fostering a productive and supportive environment for all workers in Anambra State. We call on the NLC to engage constructively with the government, allowing us to continue our shared mission of building a prosperous and inclusive state.

“In conclusion, it is important to note the government of Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo has enjoyed a smooth and cordial relationship with the labour leaders in Anambra State, even as at the time of issuing this statement, no letter of notice of industrial action has been received by the State government.

“Consequently, no one can confirm where the rumour of industrial action is coming from.”

 

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