Bauchi, Delta workers begin strike over unpaid salaries
• Ekiti APC faults Fayose’s claims on e-payment
FOR failing to pay March and April salaries to civil servants in Bauchi State, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state yesterday began an indefinite strike action beginning from midnight yesterday.
Addressing a press conference yesterday at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariat Bauchi, Chair by the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Hashimu Mohammed Gital said that their meeting with the government on salary issues ended in deadlock.
And in Delta State, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) yesterday carried out its threat by embarking on a strike action over the backlog of salaries being owed its members by the government.
Normal activities at the 25 council secretariats across the state were grounded as the aggrieved workers who had last week issued a one-week ultimatum on the state government to pay the salary arrears commenced an indefinite strike action to protest the non-payment of their salaries in the past four months.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has faulted Governor Ayodele Fayose’s comments on the e-payment system introduced by former Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration, saying discrediting the scheme as harbouring ghost workers with attendant inability to pay workers was insincerity taken too far.
Ekiti APC Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said Fayose’s claim was another lie to explain away his alleged greed, insensitivity and lack of commitment to the welfare of Ekiti workers.
The Bauchi NLC boss said, “the organized labour gathered that the failure of Bauchi State Government to pay the outstanding salaries was because the last federal allocation for the state was used for the payment of severance benefits of the outgoing political office holders and contractors leaving the workers helpless without the salaries.”
Gital said that all workers in the employment of the Bauchi State Government have being directed to stay away from their duty posts and remain at home with effect from 12am Tuesday until they get further directives from organized labour.
The president of NULGE, Comrade David Ofoeyeno lamented that 21 out of the 25 councils in the state have defaulted in the payment of salaries to workers for over four months.
The Delta NULGE chief, Ofoeyeno, listed the names of the defaulting councils as Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Patani, Isoko South, Isoko North, Udu, Ika South, Ika North-East and Oshimili South.
Others include Oshimili North, Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East, Ukwuani, Ughelli South, Ughelli North, Okpe, Sapele, Ethiope West, Ethiope East, Uvwie and Warri South.
The unionist vowed that the striking workers would not go to work until the backlog of salaries is fully paid, adding that the situation has brought untold hardship to council employees.
He said: “The SEC of NULGE met and decided to call for an indefinite strike, and the strike will not be called-off until the salaries are paid. The councils shall be under lock and keys.”
Olatubosun queried, “The e-payment system is the system embraced all over the world, including many PDP-controlled states and at the Federal level. The e-payment system has proved very effective in Ekiti State, as workers were not owed any salary for the period Fayemi was in the saddle. The system has also been used by Fayose in paying workers since he assumed office; and so when did he suddenly discover that the e-payment system is not good?’
He said if there was any system that had potential to eliminate fraud in salary payment, e-payment was the answer.
The APC spokesman alleged that by his claim, the governor was up to a systematic sacking of more workers some of whom he had sacked since he assumed office.
“We are aware of his plans to bring into Ekiti civil service outsiders from Ibadan who are his cronies against the civil service rules,” Olatubosun alleged, adding: “Ekiti workers should ask Fayose why the same e- payment system ensured their regular salary payment as at when due under the Fayemi administration but it is now impossible under his administration despite reduction in the work force as many workers, including permanent secretaries, have been sacked.
“Many employment schemes that take millions of naira from government’s treasury have been cancelled by the governor, six months moratorium was granted in bond debt repayment, which enables him to save N3 billion.”
“There is 60 per cent cut in running grants and allowances to workers and traditional rulers. This is apart from N22 billion refund on federal roads constructed by Ekiti State and N2 billion Ecological Fund he had received. The question is; what is Fayose doing with all these funds,” Olatunbosun asked.
He added that it was a height of wickedness for the governor who claims to be a friend of the masses to allocate N200 million monthly to himself as security vote and another N250 million running grant as first line charge while at the same time blind to the suffering of workers whose average salary was N28, 000.
“How many times will this governor conduct verification exercise after the first two exercise during which three teachers died in a road crash along Ise-Ekiti road while travelling for their verification exercise?” he queried.
Olatubosun challenged the governor to tell Ekiti people how much he pays monthly to his Anambra and Ogun states election sponsors who, he alleged, helped him fix June 21, 2014 governorship election.
While sympathizing with the workers for “falling prey to the antics of Fayose,” he urged them to use all legal means to demand for their pay and “resist any disguised attempt to sack them as the current verification exercise is another smokescreen for a fraudulent agenda against workers’ interest.”