Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, says the welfare of Abia workers will continue to be a priority in the enactment and implementation of the state government policies.

Governor Otti gave the assurance on Wednesday, while speaking at an event to mark the celebration of this year’s Workers’ Day, at the Umuahia Township Stadium.

The Governor, who titled his speech, ‘Workers as Agents of Development and Transformation’, said that Abia would take the lead in the implementation of the new minimum wage as soon as a new national minimum wage structure is agreed.

“I understand that labour leaders across the country are currently engaging with the Federal Government, and we are following those discussions closely. As soon as a concrete agreement is reached, we shall immediately do the needful as a State.

“We have also noted your other demands including payment of arrears of leave allowance, promotions and other accumulated debts owed our workforce in the last eight to ten years. We shall carefully consider these requests and deal with them on a case-by-case basis, and subject to availability of resources.

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“What you can, however, go home with today is that your welfare shall remain a priority for us. We shall continue to put you first in all policies and programmes of government, and in appreciation of your immense contributions to our economic and social development,” Governor Otti affirmed.

He thanked Abia workers for their services to the state, and for committing their productive years in the development of the state, adding that much of the dominant issues and challenges raised in the Workers’ Day this year would have been effectively dealt with by next year’s celebration.

In his speech, the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Okoro Ogbonnaya, commended Governor Otti for all his developmental strides in the past 11 months and for taking the welfare of workers in the Abia seriously.

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Ogbonnaya appealed to the Governor to defray the arrears of leave allowances and salaries owed workers in the state by the immediate past administration and others before it.

This year’s May Day celebration in Abia was said to be very significant as it brought together the top hierarchy of leadership in government and the organised labour in atmosphere of peace and fanfare. The last time both government and labour were said to have come together for such event was over 10 years ago.

It was heartwarming watching members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), who were recently given a new lease of life by Governor Otti with the full payment of their pension arrears, exuding joy as they marched past and saluted the Governor.

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