Okechukwu Nnodim and Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe
Employees of the National Emergency Management Agency on Monday commenced an indefinite strike, shutting down operations in all the agency’s offices across the country.
It was gathered that the workers embarked on the industrial action after the management of the agency allegedly failed to uphold the agreements it reached with the employees on staff welfare since eight months ago.
The management of the agency also confirmed the strike but wondered why the workers resorted to strike when it had approved a Group Life Insurance policy for its employees.
But the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Justin Uwazuruonye, told one of our correspondents that the management of the agency had refused to implement all that was agreed since October last year, despite the interventions of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
He stated that some members of staff of the agency, who were meant to be paid their benefits, as captured in the agreement, had died without getting their payments.
“The management has refused to keep to various agreements we reached as spearheaded by the Minister of Labour, without minding the adverse impact on workers. It would shock you to know that we lost a member of staff who did not get the entitlement he deserved as agreed since October last year. This is not fair,” Uwazuruonye said.
He added, “So, we are shutting down operations in all offices of this agency across the country by embarking on an indefinite strike until the managing director who is outside the country currently, decides to comply and implement the various agreements we reached over eight months ago.”
Reacting to the development, the management of NEMA stated that the reasons for the union’s action were already being addressed.
“For instance, the Group Life Insurance for the members of staff has already been approved. This is beside the personal accident insurance that is also being worked out to cover the workers in the course of their duties,” the Head Media and Public Relations, NEMA, Sani Datti, said.
He stated that the management, in efforts to resolve issues of outstanding claims inherited from the past administration, constituted a committee that had been verifying workers’ claims, adding that payment process had commenced for those cleared.
“However, the issue of Emergency Responses Team allowances being canvassed by the union has no basis of approval from the salaries and wages commission. The management does not desire to engage in any illegality. This has been severally communicated to the staff,” Datti said.
He argued that the strike by the union was illegal and did not conform to any known labour law or norms, stressing that current action by workers was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the government.
“Therefore, the union is hereby advised to discontinue the strike as the management is open for dialogue on any issues of concern to the staff,” Datti said.
He added, “It should be noted that current management initiated the process for a new condition of service for the staff which the Chairman of NEMA Governing Council has given consent and even set up an Establishment Committee which is expected to come up with relevant recommendations.
“The committee has sat three times and received necessary briefings and would soon forward its report for consideration and approval by the council.
“While the management in efforts to resolve issues of outstanding claims inherited from the past administration constituted a committee that has been verifying staff claims and payment process have commenced for those cleared.
“The management wishes to draw the attention of the staff and stakeholders to note that the strike action embarked by the union is illegal and does not conform to any known labour law or norms.