Minimum wage: Consider health, other critical sectors before you go for strike, Speaker tells labour

* Onofiok Luke, Speaker, AKHA, addressing workers yesterday

Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke, has pleaded with labour leaders to consider critical sectors of the society such as the hospitals as they plan to embark on their anticipated industrial action, saying that health workers must keep working in case of emergencies.

Speaker Luke made the plea, Tuesday, while addressing the leadership of the National Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Unified Labour Congress who marched to the House of Assembly premises in protest over the minimum wage saga with the government.

Addressing the protesting group, the Speaker said: “After all have been said, I want to plead with you to consider some critical sectors in the society especially the hospitals because if they join the strike, and during your march; someone faints, the person must be treated likewise others. So I’m appealing to you, once again, to be lenient  with the hospital workers”.

* Akwa Ibom workers during the peaceful protest, yesterday

Also commending their peaceful conduct during the march, Luke said: “I want to thank you for coming here today and conducting yourselves in a peaceful manner because back in the days, labour would have destroyed some property here. This show of maturity is due to the leadership of the NLC, TUC and ULC and I urge other states to copy from you”.

The Speaker said he understood the plight of workers, as a worker’s son, adding that he remained committed to the framing of policies that would benefiting workers in the state.

While expressing optimism that the governor would visit the state secretariat to negotiate with workers and talk directly with them on achievable salary framework for all workers like, the Speaker also assured that Governor Udom Emmanuel is one who gives special preference to the welfare of workers.

He urged the protesters to to remain calm and ensure that their protest was done within the ambit of the law.

Earlier, the state chairman of the NLC, Mr. Etim Ukpong, had noted that their visit to the House was to notify members of the planned strike and having been lucky to meet the Speaker.

Ukpong said it was also necessary to use the opportunity to inform the Speaker that, where the government fails to agree to the demands of the union as regards the newly proposed minimum wage for workers, the state council of the union will join their members in the rest of the country to embark on an indefinite strike billed for November 6, 2018.

He further said that it was a thing of surprise how people on their own would wake up to aspire for leadership, and when given on the trust that the people’s welfare would be protected, they would rather turn to only lead into their pockets and into their families, adding that any leader who does not show concern for workers’ welfare will not have workers’ votes in any election.

Comrade Ukpong further appreciated the Speaker following information he said has reached him through the parliamentary staff workers, who are members of the NLC, about his efforts in improving the welfare of staff of the state house of Assembly.