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C’River NLC Says No Going Back On Indefinite Strike …Even As Affiliate Unions Back Out

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The relationship between the government of Cross River and the State wing of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) got soared over the weekend when the Organized Labour declared an indefinite strike over an alleged refusal of government to settle 8-point wages-related demands of the NLC.
Briefing newsmen, the NLC Chairman, Comrade Ben Ukpepi, lamented that all efforts to cause Governor Ben Ayade to see reasons why he should accede to the demands had fallen on deaf ears as workers, whose names were delisted from payroll and those who were yet to be captured after working since 2018 with official appointment letters, were still suffering.
According to him 1,885 workers have had their names removed from payroll without any explainable reason while more than 3,000 workers formally employed in 2018 and working since then were yet to be officially captured in the state payroll.
He said the decision to embark on strike was taken after days of warning strike had elapsed without government blinking an eye, and noted “it is obvious the Cross River state government does not take the welfare of its workers seriously. This assertion is made on the premise that plethora of workers’ issues presented to the government have been neglected and left unattended to.”

The NLC Chief enumerated Organized Labour’s demands to include: “payment of outstanding gratuities to both State and local government retirees from 2014; implementation of promotion from both State and local government workers; immediate return of names of workers removed from payroll and immediate return of weigh-in allowance to radio, television, theatre arts and paper printing workers in the state.”
According to him, other demands are: “the immediate payrolling of about 2000 workers recruited and have been working since 2018; immediate return of salary structures of workers of college of health technology, Calabar; immediate payment of balance of 30 percent of CONHESS to health workers, and payment of new hazard allowance for medical and health workers in the State.”

The NLC Chairman therefore advised “all workers to stay at home from Monday 29th June, 2020 until government attends to all the lingering Labour issues,” and charged workers not to be intimidated.
When asked on the issue of some affiliate unions pulling out of the strike action as rumoured, Comrade Ukpepi said “the Nigerian Labour Congress in Cross River state is made up of 46 affiliate unions. It is only one that is saying the strike is untimely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If one pulls out, the remaining 45 affiliate unions are together and the strike will commence from Monday. No time is the best time for those who served this state meritoriously to be paid their entitlement. Which time is the right time when we have been on this matter since last year?”

The Labour leader dismissed an injunction from the State High court allegedly initiated by the government to stop the strike, saying the Calabar-based government should have taken the Organized Labour to the industrial court where labour issues are handled.
“Are they going to court because workers are asking for their right?
For us, we do not recognize the injunction from the State High court because they lack the jurisdiction to handle this matter, and not only that, we have gone to an appeal. The court Order from the High Court has nothing to do with our strike which officially commences on Monday,” the NLC chairman submitted.
From Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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DPR Plans Maximum Economic Recovery Strategy For Oil, Gas Industry

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) says it is formulating a Maximum Economic Recovery (MER) strategy for Nigeria to attain maximum value delivery from its oil and gas resources.

The Director, DPR, Mr Sarki Auwalu, made the announcement during a keynote address at the 2021 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE), yesterday, in Lagos.

The conference has as its theme, “The Future of Energy –A Trilogy of Determinants: Climate Change, Public Health, and the Global Oil Market.”

Auwalu said the industry initiative was one of the outcomes of the work of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre (NOGEC), Lagos inaugurated in January by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said, “Following an in-depth assessment of the status of the industry, the department identified the need to formulate the ‘Maximum Economic Recovery Strategy for Nigeria’.

“This is to guarantee the actualisation of sustainable resource optimisation and the economic benefits arising therefrom.

“The framework for this industry action plan outlines six pillars or building blocks.”

Auwalu said the pillars were: Reserves Maturation and Production Optimisation, Exploration and Resources Maturation, Improved Oil Recovery and Enhanced Oil Recovery, Implementation Asset Stewardship, Performance Evaluation and Rewards Risk Management.

According to him, the draft framework has been shared with the industry, including professional associations like the SPE and the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists.

He said this was in preparation for an industry collaborative workshop to co-develop and enunciate this strategy for immediate execution.

“We count on the contributions and buy-in of all stakeholders on this crucial national assignment for our overall benefit and industry sustainability,“he said.

Auwalu said Nigeria was rising to the occasion as the ‘trigger’ for continental growth and economic transformation using its oil and gas resources to drive value for national development.

He said the DPR would continue to foster innovative ideas and create opportunities for investments and sustainability in the industry.

Auwalu said, “As always, we are enthusiastic to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, including the SPE, toward the realisation of government’s aspirations for the oil and gas sector.

“In our role as business enablers and opportunity providers, DPR will continue to promote efficiency to meet the needs of the industry, creating value, enhancing transparency, reducing barriers and transaction costs.”

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Pensioners Urge PenCom To Implement Unpaid 15% Increment

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Pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have appealed to the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to implement their 15 and 33 per cent pension increment and other benefits.

The Contributory Pensioners Union of Nigeria (CPUN), South-West Zone, made the appeal,yesterday, during a peaceful protest held in Ibadan.

The CPUN President, Mr Joseph Idowu, while addressing newsmen said that PenCom has yet to implement the increment since 2007 and 2010 in spite of various promises.

Idowu said that their counterparts, under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS), had been enjoying the increment through the proactive stand of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).

“The new consequential adjustment in pension due to the latest increase in workers’ salaries and wages are also being enjoyed by pensioners under DBS, neglecting the CPS pensioners.

“No CPS pensioner has received any interest on their accrued benefits since 2007 till date.

“We require your urgent attention to ensure that arrears on this are calculated and paid at the Federal Government official rate, as at the time of retirement,” Idowu said.

The president said that his members were suffering as some of them collect as low as N3, 000 as their monthly pension which was not accepted.

Idowu also said that his members were not happy with the delay in the payment of their retirement benefits, which the commission now paid after one year of retirement, contrary to PRA Act 2004 (Amended).

He said that Section 16 (5) of PRA Act 2004 says pensioners should be paid not more than three months after retirement.

Idowu, however, commended the commission for prompt payment of their monthly pension, urging them to prioritise welfare of pensioners under the CPS.

Also, a member of the union, Mrs Clara Fumilayo, called on the Federal Government to assist the pensioners,

Fumilayo said that their monthly pension could no more buy any tangible things based on the situation in the country.

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‘Only 29% Of Babies Breastfed Due To Reliance On Breast Milk Substitute’

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A professor of Paediatric and Child Health, Alice Romoke-Nte, says the aggressive marketing of breast milk substitute by manufacturers was responsible for the gap in breastfeeding of children by mothers in Nigeria.

Nte, who is also the coordinator, Baby Friendly Initiative at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) said the advertising of these baby food weakens the confidence of the mothers and makes them feel that these breast milk substitutes are better off.

She said this has left only 29 percent of Nigerian babies breastfed as a result.

Nte said the UPTH, Rotary Clubs in Port Harcourt and other stakeholders were using this year’s World Breastfeeding Week to carry out aggressive campaigns to raise awareness for the need of exclusive breastfeeding.

She said the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes would be included in steps to ensure full compliance of marketing these artificial body foods.

Rotary Clubs in Port Harcourt that joined in the rally yesterday morning for exclusive breastfeeding to mark the World Breastfeeding Week includes, Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Garden City, Top Health, Seaport, Eco, Atlantic City, and Golf Estate.

Others include, Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Gateway, City Valley, Passport, Creek View, Sky Waves, and Rotary Club of Port Harcourt.

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