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May Day: Gov Fubara assures Rivers workers of salary increase, bags labour Champion award

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.As Labour tasks Rivers Govt on establishment of state owned refinery, railway

Emmanuel Nlewedum, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured workers in the state of implementing the salary increase recently approved by the Federal Government, as soon as the parameters are made available.

Governor Fubara gave the assurance while addressing workers in the state during the 2024 May Day celebration with theme: ‘People First’ at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.

The Governor said his administration is about the poor state of the nation’s economy, with the attendant rising inflation, which has impacted adversely on the purchasing power and well-being of the average workers and their families.

Governor Fubara, therefore, said: “Let me assure you that we are going to work with the Federal Government to implement necessary measures, including the continuation of the free bus services and the provision of necessary palliatives to ameliorate the current hardship faced by ordinary citizens.

“We are also committed to implementing the increase in workers’ salaries recently approved by the Federal Government as soon as the parameters are made available.

“We are a listening government, and we have heard the common concerns and demands of labour on the urgency of stimulating economic growth and improving the living conditions of our people.”

Governor Fubara acknowledged workers as critical human resource that have continued to contribute immensely to the sustained long-term economic growth of the State, adding that they are indispensable, from the production lines of small and big factories to Government offices and institutions.

Governor Fubara, categorically said: “Rivers State is what it is, economically strong, resilient, and vibrant because of our workers. Our local governments and communities are what they are because workers are doing their jobs, and our nation is the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa only because of the commitment, efforts, and achievements of our workers.

“What this means is that there can be no nation-building or progress in society without the input, effort, and sacrifice of the workforce.”

He further assured that: “As a Government, we recognize the roles, importance, and relevance of our workers to the implementation of our policy agenda for economic growth, provision of infrastructure, social progress and advancing the welfare and well-being of citizens.

“This is the reason we are here, not only to celebrate with you, but also to reiterate, reinforce, and reassure us of the inseparable bonds we have with organised labour as partners in progress.”

Fubara reiterated that labour is his primary constituency, and that he will not disappoint them. “I will continue to govern with the fear of God and carry everyone, including labour, along.

“We promised not to neglect the interest and well-being of our workers within the limits of available resources, and we have not faltered on this promise.

“On the 1st of June, 2023, barely three days after the assumption of office, I visited the State Secretariat Complex to see its dilapidated state and take immediate measures to improve the poor working environment of our workers. We have reactivated and restored some facilities and services, including the water system, elevators, leaking roofs, and improved electricity supply in the complex.

Governor Fubara said he implemented promotion of staff stagnated over a decade with financial benefits, and approved the recruitment of 1,000 doctors and other medical personnel to strengthen the State’s healthcare delivery system.

Also, he said, the State’s Contributory Healthcare Insurance Scheme has commenced, urging all workers to take advantage of the benefits of the scheme, adding that the Government was clearing the backlog of gratuities to retired civil servants while ensuring the prompt enrolment and payment of pensions.

“I can assure you that the days of delayed payments of retirement benefits to civil servants are over under our watch.
“Few weeks ago, we directed and ensured the implementation of the minimum wage and promotion of our workers in the local government service.
“We have approved and released a grant of N250million only for the completion of the secretariat building of the Nigerian Union of Teachers,” he added.
He assured the workers that no amount of intimidation, harassment and sabotage will make his Government to change focus, adding that his policy thrusts will continue to be driven by the interest and needs of the people. He announced the donation of N100million to workers who turned up at the stadium for the celebration of the 2024 May Day.
In his address, the Rivers State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Alex Agwanwor, said the theme of 2024 International Labour Day, ‘People First’, reflects the leadership direction of Governor Fubara, who has continued to prioritise the welfare of workers in the State.
Comrade Agwanwor stated that the Governor implemented promotion for state and local government workers with consequential financial benefits.
Also implemented, he said, were payment of N30,000.00 minimum wage to LG workers, N100,000.00 Christmas bonus across board to all workers, constitution of governing councils, boards and commissions of government agencies, institutions for effective service delivery, restored functionality of basic utilities at the State Secretariat, and reopened Rivers State Transport Company (RTC).
All of these, he noted, have further motivated workers, and emboldened them to remain unfettered in their support to the success of the Governor Fubara-led Administration while increasing their productivity.
He commended the Governor for making efforts to revamp the abandoned Songhai Integrated Farms at Bunu Tai, and listed other agricultural initiatives such as Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) and C-4 programmes, Delta Rubber Company, among others, as areas the Government must focus on to enhance food sufficiency and security, while taming hunger and raising job creation opportunities in the State.
Also speaking, the Rivers State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ikechukwu Onyefuru, expressed delight over recent feat of Governor Fubara by increasing the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N11billion to N27billion.
He advised that with items like railways and building of refineries moved to the Concurrent List, the State Government should take advantage of this new legal framework, to further grow the State’s IGR and create more jobs for the youths.
The TUC chairman also appealed to Governor Fubara to use his good offices to compel International Oil Companies (OICs) not to move their headquarters out of the State, while also thanking him for mediating in the industrial dispute in Indorama Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company Limited at Eleme.
Comrade Onyefuru said Nigerian workers condemned and rejected the recent increase of electricity tariffs, describing it as draconian and anti-people.
The TUC chairman also requested that the salary of primary healthcare workers be moved to the Primary Healthcare Management Board, where he said, they feel better protected.
At the event, the State Civil Service offered the Governor gift of a Bible and portrait while the organised labour honoured him with the Labour Champion of Rivers State Award for being the most labour-friendly Governor.

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