Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was conspicuously absent at the 2016 May Day celebration held in Owerri, the state capital.
Workers who turned out, though, in small numbers waited patiently for the arrival of the Governor for several hours for the event to commence but all to no avail.
Dramatically, the governor whose protocol officers had earlier arrived at the venue of the event to put things in order for his arrival, curiously sent Mr. George Echie, the Secretary to the State Government, to represent him.
Meanwhile, the event was celebrated in a low key as workers and many trade unions in the state boycotted the celebration.
Heroes Square which situates on the Concord Road, Owerri, which was the venue for the celebration was scanty as there were only few workers and unions members present.
It was gathered that the reason for this might is connected with the non-payment of workers’ salaries and the discrimination of payment of 80 per cent to civil servants and 50 per cent to the parastatals.
In a joint address presented by Comrade Paul Akalazu, the State Chairman Trade Union Congress (TUC), he said that the 2016 May Day coincided with the collapse of the national economy arising from the fall of oil prices and high rate of the dollar.
He said that given the agreed 70 per cent for workers salaries and 30 per cent for government , the joint committee of government and labour appointed by the state government received N3.6 billion from government instead of N5.3 billion claimed to be salaries of workers in the state.
He said that the situation resulted in the payment of 70 per cent salaries to workers since it did not go round for 100 per cent.
Akalazu said that the committee also received N2.6 billion and that when it was discovered that it could not meet up, the state government beefed it up with additional N2.9b to enable it come up to 80 per cent for workers.
The unionist said that t the organised labour is only supervising the payment of salaries to ensure that no worker was either victimised or denied his or her salaries adding that payment is domiciled at the Accountant General’s Office.
The workers called for immediate re-engagement of 200 workers of Imo Transport Company and payment of 15 months arrears of payment for workers of Adapalm Company.
The organised labour condemned the action of the Senior Special Adviser to the governor on Internally Generated Revenue in removing 33 workers from the pay roll of government and appealed to the governor to call his appointee to order.
The union urged the state government to as a matter of urgency commence payment to pensioners which had already been set aside.
Responding, the governor represented by Sir George Echie, the Secretary to the State Government assured labour that in the next one month, all pensioners would be paid.
The SSG who was incessantly booed by the workers appealed to them to appreciate the current economic situation in the country, praying that things would soon stabilise.
He maintained that the current hardship facing the state and other states in the country would soon be over and things would become better again.