Tuesday, 7 June 2016

NLC threatens strike as Bayelsa fails to fulfil promise

The Nigeria Labour Congress,  Bayelsa State chapter, may mobilise workers in the state to proceed on another round of strike next week over the unpaid months of salary arrears of workers, it has been learnt.

The development, it was learnt, was because the state government had yet to fulfil its promise of paying 50 per cent salaries to them as agreed in a meeting between labour unions and the government more than two weeks ago.

The organised labour in the state had suspended its industrial action and accepted the government’s proposal of paying 50 per cent salaries across board with effect from February this year.

The four-day-old strike was suspended on May 23, 2016, following a meeting between the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration  and the state Joint Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress at Government House, Yenagoa.

Labour had embarked on the action after the expiration of  the 21-day ultimatum it gave the government to pay all outstanding salaries to civil servants and pensions to all pensioners under the state civil service.

In an eight-point resolution reached at the meeting, labour accepted the government’s position to pay 50 per cent of monthly salaries to workers with effect from February 2016.

Labour also agreed that the government would effect full payment of workers’ salaries as soon as the allocation from the Federation Account accruing to the state improved.

The resolution was signed by Head of Service, Mr. Peter Singabele, Information Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, NLC chairman, Mr. John Bipre-Ndiomu and the TUC chairman, Mr. Tari Dounana.

As of the time of the meeting, the Dickson’s administration was owing the mainstream civil service workers five months’ salaries and pensioners eight months’ pension while local government council employees were suffering a backlog of 13 months.

An executive member of the NLC told our correspondent that the government had yet to keep their promise of paying the 50 per cent salaries as agreed with the labour leaders.

The official, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of victimisation, said the labour had given the government only this week to fulfil their promise.

He warned that if by the end of the week, the government failed to pay the half salaries, the labour might be compelled to go on strike again as from next week after reviewing the situation.

The official said, “We find it curious that up till now the government has yet to pay the 50 per cent salaries of workers. When we tried to find out what happened, we were told that they were working on something and that by this week, they will commence payment.

“We are optimistic that the government will pay but if it fails to pay, we will be left with no option but to review our suspended industrial action. We are believing that this week will work again.”

The Chairman,  TUC, Mr. Tari  Dounana, confirmed that civil servants had not received their 50 per cent monthly  salaries, saying that labour was conferring with government on the payment.

“We are conferring with the state government to see that they commence payment this week,” he said.

Efforts to get the comment of the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation,  Jonathan Obuebite, were unsuccessful as calls to his mobile phone could not connect.