The Academic Staff Union of Universities is on strike, and the Rivers State government and the Nigeria Labour Congress are planning a protest in support of them.
The NLC argued that the state government lacked the authority to punish any civil servant who joined the strike out of sympathy. The state government had threatened to do so.
In a speech to employees in Port Harcourt, the state’s head of service, Dr. Rufus Godwins, issued the warning.
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Godwins asserted that neither lecturers nor state civil servants were owed by the state government, and that there was no justification for them to participate in the strike.
This does not interfere with civil servants’ rights to be members of their various unions, he declared.
“However, they cannot participate in a strike that is being staged as a show of solidarity with another department or level of government that is not upholding its duties to its own employees while we are.
That’s why I’m saying you shouldn’t go on a sympathy strike. When we owe you money, the situation changes. Our universities are operating. We owe nothing to our civil servants. We are taking care of our obligations to them.
According to the state HoS, an attendance register would be opened right away to track disloyal public employees and impose the proper punishments.
“Nigeria has 170 universities. Let the federal government rationalise and close the universities if it is unable to manage them.
Every civil servant is aware that being absent from work is a form of misconduct that carries a penalty under the public service rules that apply to the services.
“Malinging, loitering, refusing to handle files; you can’t be off duty without permission, you will he asked.
For you to participate in a strike that we forbid you from participating in, Godwins continued, “and especially so if the absence was caused by an illegal motive.”
However, the state chairperson of the NLC, Beatrice Itubo, quickly refuted allegations that the union intended to begin a solidarity strike on Wednesday.
But Itubo criticised the Head of Service for calling a meeting just to threaten the state’s civil servants.
Nobody has demanded a nationwide strike, the woman said. We went to a National Executive Committee meeting last Thursday, which is what actually happened.
The instruction to join in solidarity with ASUU and the students was given on the NEC floor at that location.
“In light of that, we should return home and educate our population so that we will all join on the day the whistle blows.
So, I’m not sure where the Rivers State Government got the information that we were planning to launch a global protest.
Nothing comparable exists. Browse all of our websites. Everyone in this nation is, of course, in support of ASUU and sympathises with the students who have been at home for almost six months.
It is as a result of the majority of their children not attending school in Nigeria.
In the event that the union decides to go on strike, she clarified that the state government does not have the authority to halt organised labour.
The head of the state’s NLC characterised the state’s government’s threat to punish any civil servant who participates in the solidarity strike as being hollow.
They’re just making threats. The workers are aware of better. We will cross that bridge once we arrive at it, Itubo said.