Cross River: Govt Owes Workers Two Months’ Salaries, Pay Council Workers Half-Month
The government has been finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries due to the dwindling revenue accrue to the state for sometimes now.
However during the recent Workers’ Day celebration, the State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke promised that his administration will pay salaries for the months of March and April before leaving office on May 29.
The Governor who said the only thing he regretted was not paying workers’ salaries as due, also promised to dialogue with the state owned University lecturers (CRUTECH) that has been on strike for over three months with a view to re-open the University.
Civil Servants in the state have faulted the State Government on the delay of salary payment, saying it is affecting their lives.
Some workers who for the fear of being punished for speaking to the press said they have been enjoying a good working relationship with the state government over the years, but recently the same government that has treated its workers with kindness has turned its back at them.
A teacher who pleaded anonymity said it has been a difficult task for him to feed his family and even pay his rent since the state government decided to delay salaries of workers for two months.
He said, “I am a civil servant, a teacher, and I have worked for the past years for the government. The past government has been fair to us by way of early payment of salaries, but recently I don’t know what is going on in the country. We have worked and we have not been paid salaries for like two months and then we are into a new month now.
“We are all family men, we have wives and children, some of us do not have a house of our own we pay house rent. By the time you stayed in somebody’s house the next thing the landlord or landlady will ask you to pay your rent, where will you run to, at the end of it all you end up having problem with your landlord”.
He said: “The only good thing is that I come from a place where we have farm. Most times when it is difficult like that I rushed home even if it is to borrow transport fare that can take me home and back, I will go home enter my farm and harvest food stuffs like plantain, cassava and bush mango.
“In fact we have all the economic trees in my place. It gives us a little support to fall back on. We cannot fully rely on government work to survive. That is how I have been coping with my family.
“We know that it is not easy but then they are at the top and we work under them. It is not good the way they are treating us. What do you expect from somebody you have not paid for long and you expect that person to do his or her best, it is not done that way. I just pray things will work out for good,” the teacher said.
Another worker said the delay in payment of workers’ salaries has affected his financial status, stressing that his family falls back to the little money that comes from the wife’s petty trade.
He complained, “It is something that is very painful to us but we have no choice, we have to manage and still go to work.
Cross River is a civil servant state and we depend on the salary and even with that you are not allowed to do something for yourself. Before now we close work by 2 pm, but recently we started staying till 4 pm. I left my house with N50.00 in my pocket to work so it is something that is pulling us down, but we have no choice, we have to serve our government.
“If you talk about house rent, I am indebted to my landlord I have never owed him before but now I am owing him and then when you talk about feeding my family, because my wife is not a civil servant the little thing she is doing cannot not even sustain the family.”
“The governor has promised that he will pay before leaving the office, that is a promise, that means to say he may or he may not, but my advice to the incoming governor is for him to address the problem.”
While delivering his address on Workers’ Day, the State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade John Ushie said despite the economic challenges in the country, the state government had been friendly to workers but recently there has been a shift of focus by the same government.
According to him, lately, there is clearly a shift of focus by government and it is manifesting in late payment of salaries. Indeed as we speak March salaries are yet to be paid.
He said: “The salaries as they are, are so small, so inadequate that delaying them is like subjecting workers to hunger strike. He condemned the system of half payment of salaries to local government workers, stating that the worst is that the Ministry of Local Government Affairs has resorted to paying local government staff half salaries.
He warned, “we want to make it clear that it is unacceptable, we demand that the balance of the fifty per cent of February salary be paid immediately to workers of local government and the practice of paying them by piecemeal be stopped.’
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