THE organised labour unions in Bayelsa State have suspended their industrial action over unpaid salaries and pension arrears. The workers’ unions shelved the industrial action after an extensive meeting on Monday, May 23, with the state government.
In attendance at the meeting were the government representatives and leadership of the Bayelsa State chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria. Workers in the state had last Thursday proceeded on an indefinite strike over months of salary arrears owed by the state government.
They commenced the strike after 21-day ultimatum they issued to the government on April 28, 2016, elapsed on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Currently, workers in the state civil service are owed four months’ salaries, employees of local government councils are battling to survive over 12 months of unpaid wages while pensioners are owed about seven months.
The suspension of the strike on Monday was made known in a communique issued in Yenagoa and jointly signed by Head of Service, Peter Singabele; commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite; State NLC Chairman, Ndiomu John-Bipre, and the Chairman of TUC, Tari Dounana.
The organised labour accepted the government’s position to pay 50 per cent of monthly salaries with effect from February 2016. The government, is however, expected to effect full payment of workers’ salaries as soon as the allocation from the Federation Accounts accruing to the state improves.
The 50 percent of salaries payable to workers, according to labour, was not a downward review of workers’ salaries. The resolutions reached at the meeting according to the communique indicate that, “Labour has accepted the position of the state government to pay 50 per cent of monthly salaries to workers effective from February 2016 and expects the government to effect full payment of workers’ salaries as soon as the allocation from the federal account accruing to the state improves.
“Labour equally states clearly that the 50 per cent of salaries payable to workers is not a downward review of workers’ salaries. That is to say, that the outstanding 50 per cent shall be paid as soon as the federal allocation to the state improves to complete the monthly salaries of workers.
“That in line with the ongoing payment of January 2016 salaries to workers, the government should facilitate the process of payment of salaries to the outstanding MDAs and parastatals, including pensioners without further delays. That a monthly meeting should be scheduled between labour and government in order to have a joint review of the economic recovery of the state.”
The communique also said in view of the state government’s policy on the payment of primary school teachers, labour should commence the process of negotiating with the government on the way forward. It said that the Bayelsa State Government should negotiate with banks to suspend deductions arising from loans until the economy of the state improved or otherwise direct payment should be made to workers.
The meeting agreed that no disciplinary action should be taken against any public servant arising from his or her role(s) either by omission or commission geared towards the prosecution of the suspended industrial action by organised labour.
The communique said that labour suspended the strike in the light of strong appeals and interventions from the state government and other well meaning Bayelsans and in accordance with the tenets of Trade Union Negotiations, as well as to pave the way for further negotiations between the government and labour.
The communique also indicated that the organised labour reserved the right to resume strike without prior notice to the state government, if it (government) failed or reneged in any of the terms of the agreement. – Punch
— May 24, 2016 @ 17:40 GMT