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Protesting workers ground activities in Trade Ministry

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GOVERNMENT business activities were on Wednesday paralysed at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, following a protest organised by civil servants in the ministry.

The protest, which commenced at about 10am,  grounded activities as several visitors to the ministry who had come for government business were denied access to service.

The protesting workers, comprising the ministry’s trade union body, were seen in their hundreds chanting solidarity songs as well as carrying placards with various inscriptions.

Speaking to newsmen during the protest, Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council in the Ministry Comrade O. Okonkwo said the protest became imperative following a series of consultations and interventions with staff on the state of affairs in the ministry since August 2021 when the current permanent secretary assumed duty in the ministry.

He said since assumption of office of the current permanent secretary, the ministry had been in a deplorable state of affairs evidenced by low workers’ morale and poor service delivery.

He alleged that the deplorable state at the ministry was brought about by the activities and administrative tendencies of the permanent secretary.

Okonkwo said, “The presence of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry can no longer guarantee industrial harmony.

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“Consequently, staff unanimously resolved that the Permanent Secretary be redeployed with immediate effect to restore confidence and sense of harmony in the workplace.

“Staff request that funds for payment of training allowance should be complete and made available to conclude the process on or before 15 November, 2021 all with a view to dousing the restive atmosphere already created by the unfolding events.”

He reaffirmed the union’s commitment to good governance and service delivery in an atmosphere of industrial harmony.

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary is yet to issue any official response with respect to the demand by protesting workers.

However, Ifedayo Sayo, the official spokesperson for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Niyi Adebayo, told The ICIR that the minister was already discussing with both parties to find a common ground to the concerns raised by the union.

“This is a labour dispute and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment has been intervening and bringing the parties together. It would have escalated more than this if not for his intervention.”

He further noted that the minister would continue engaging the parties together to solve all the labour-related  problems raised by the union.

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“The minister is also handling this carefully and hopefully soon there would be a middle ground for all the parties very soon,” he said.

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