By Nick Chibunna
Organized labour in Imo State last Tuesday reaffirmed its total and unflinching support to the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Imo State chapter, and vowed it would never abandon the senior citizens in times of distress.
This declaration was made by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Austin Chilakpu, when he led other executives of the affiliate Unions on a solidarity visit to the Imo pensioners during the south east Zonal leadership Forum of the union.
The forum, which had five states in the South East in attendance, was in Imo to be briefed on the lingering face-off between the Imo State government and pensioners, and see where it could assist in resolving the thorny crisis.
At the end of the meeting which was presided over by the zonal chairman, Chief C.N Udensi, resolutions were passed in support of the Imo NUP in their struggle to actualize their demands.
Comrade Chilakpu who came with affiliate unions in the state, including the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Trade Union Congress (TUC) Radio, Television and Theatre Workers Union (RATTAWU) and Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) described Imo NUP as an affiliate of the NLC, adding that the organized labour in Imo State would continue to partner with the union, no matter the situation.
He said that the organized labour in Imo State is aware of the sufferings of the Imo pensioners and enjoined them to have faith in God who would neither forsake nor disappoint them.
The labour leader thanked the Imo pensioners for their courage, patience and perseverance, adding that soon the tempest would be over; especially now labour have come to identify with them in their travail.
On the controversial form that required the Imo pensioners to forfeit 60% of their entitlements, Comrade Chilakpu described it as unfair, inhuman, wicked and ungodly. He said that although those who signed the obnoxious form said things has to be done so that justice would take its course.
Other union leaders also spoke and encouraged the Imo pensioners to see their present predicament as a trying period that would not last forever.
Earlier in an address, the NUP, Imo State chairman, Chief GU Ezeji, had intimated the zonal forum of the ordeal of Imo pensioners in the hands of the state government and sought their assistance.
He said that in a situation where pensioners are owned as much as 74-77 months leaves much to be desired and portends danger in a free society.
Chief Ezeji reaffirmed his union’s demand to be paid 100% of their accumulated entitlements, adding that they said “No” to the payment of 40%.
Responding, the zonal chairman of the NUP, Chief C.N Udensi said that they were in Imo to identify with their members who were in pain and agony
He called on the organized labour in Imo State to rise up to the present challenge and fight for Imo pensioners, since they are the tomorrow’s pensioners.
National leaders of NUP who spoke at the forum included High Chief Dr Emeka Onwumere, the national Vice Chairman, South east and Comrade G Abamisi, the National treasurer, both who entreated the organized labour in Imo to lend helping hand to the Imo NUP.
At the end of the meeting, resolutions were passed in support of the Imo NUP in their struggle.