The Rivers State Government has denied the reports that it sealed the premises of the state chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, over the perceived misunderstanding it had with the labour union in respect of the new national minimum wage.
The NLC had resumed work yesterday to see that its state Secretariat has been sealed off by an arm of the state government.
Recall that the Chairperson of NLC in the state, Beatrice Itubo, had in a statement said the union would not tolerate acts of nonchalance against the union by the state as regards its welfare, noting that the government did not pay the sum agreed in the new minimum wage.
However, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, had expressed regrets over the statement credited to NLC, noting that the union has shown it is a political party. But, the Special Projects & Head Bureau for Special Projects, who claimed responsibility for the action, noting that the sealing off was to allow for integrity test on the building.
Special Adviser to the governor on Special Projects and Head Bureau for Special Projects, George-Kelly, D.A said: “The attention of the Bureau for Special Projects have been drawn to a frivolous news milling the rounds that the NLC secretariat was sealed as a result of minimum wage-related issues. This is not only untrue but also a calculated attempt at misleading the public against the genuine intentions of the government.
“As you may be aware, the NLC structure which was built pro bono by the Rivers State Government for Labour was completed and commissioned only a few months ago by the Bureau and it is our normal practice to carry out general inspections and structural integrity evaluation or tests before the expiration of the defects liability period.
“It is this activity that precedes the release of the 5% retention fees due to any contractor 6 months or 1 year upon practical completion of the project. This is not new to every contractor or client in the construction industry.
The Bureau had to act expeditiously by giving him the go-ahead to conduct a thorough structural integrity evaluation in liaison with the Bureau’s in-house consultants; and of course, this can only be done by first sealing off the place, because the place can not be in use while the exercise is on.”
He said it would be uncharitable and ungrateful for NLC to misconstrue the exercise for a product of an imagined imbroglio between labour and government, describing it as sad.