The Rivers State Head of Service (HOS), Mr Rufus Godwins, has given clarifications on queries issued to some labour leaders in the state even as he warned workers against joining any strike action called by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), a non-core civil service industrial union.
Speaking to The Tide in Port Harcourt yesterday, the Head of Service said that the queries did not emanate from his office to the affected labour leaders.
Godwins said he was informed that the respective supervising officers of the affected labour leaders, Comrade Beatrice Itubo, chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC); Comrade Austin Jonah, Ssate Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC); and Comrade Chukwu Emecheta, chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) who are civil servants were issued queries in respect of breach of extant civil service rules and regulations.
He said that the affected officers besides being labour leaders are government employees and they are subject to the civil service rules and regulations guiding civil servants, conducts.
He said “being a labour leader cannot place somebody above the rules and regulations of the civil service”, stressing that the civil service,” rules and regulations take precedence.
The HOS said that the queries were issued to the labour leaders for violating the civil service rules by going on air to villify lambast and lampoon their employer’s policies rather than being queried for peaceful assembly of the workers at the secretariat.
He said that the state government is labour-friendly and holds the collective opinion of the workers in high esteem, stressing that the Constitution of Nigeria guarantees peaceful assembly.
chief civil servant of the state said that the present administration of Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike is a listening government out to promote good and accountable governance and therefore gives priority attention to the welfare of the workers in terms of regular salary payment, payment of promotion arrears, cars, revolving loans to civil servants and address other challenges faced by the workers.
He said that as the HOS, he would continue to put on the front burner issues affecting the civil servants to attract the attention of the state government without compromise.
He appealed to the workers not to join any purported strike action called by PENGASSAN in solidarity with the labour leaders.
He urged the organied Labour in the state to reciprocate the friendly labour policy of the state government by supporting the state government’s policies and programmes aimed at alleviating hardship faced by the civil servants.
However, The Tide’s attempts to speak with any of the labour leaders proved abortive as they avoided their calls and also did not respond to sms messages by our reporter.