Bayo Oyewale,Lokoja The Organised labour in Kogi State has accused the state government of reneging on all the agreements entered into with the government before the suspension of the industrial action in November 2017. Just as it has accused the government of not paying full salary contrary to the misgivings from the government quarters that the government has cleared the backlog of salaries till December. This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Onuh Edoka and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Comrade Ranti Ojo state in Lokoja, the State capital. The labour leaders also expressed shock over the statement credited to the state government that it has cleared salaries arrears owed to civil servants up to December, 2017. They said the available record shows that government unilaterally paid 60% and 40% salaries to the state and local government workers from August to December, 2017. The unions said that the arrears due to some staff owed between 6 to 22 months before August 2017 are still hanging and wondered why the state government would engage in such a misleading statement that all workers have been paid up to date. The organised labour also expressed shock at the pronouncement of Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello that the government borrowed a whooping sum of 10 billion Naira to pay salary arrears when it is evident that the state government collected over 6 billion Naira Paris Club refund in addition to the monthly allocations of October and November 2017, the three sums, ordinarily could have been enough to pay full salary to all categories of staff going by the wage bill of 2.6 billion Naira presented by the state government. The organised labour therefore described the Governor’s pronouncement that workers have been paid up to December 2017 as a mere political statement that cannot be justified. The unions said the state government has been taking workers and their views for granted when it comes to consulting the leadership of the unions on the matters that affect the welfare of the workers. The organised labour said that the pronouncement by the Governor in his new year broadcast that the clock-in-clock-out device would be used as a means of computing January salary is another affront to the patience of Kogi workers since the issue of the device was part of the November 2017 agreement reached with the government. According to them, the unions agreed with the government that a committee be set to monitor the effectiveness of the device in the first three months after which a report of it would be studied by both government and labour before the next line of action. As at today, the labour leaders said no such committee has been instituted to monitor the effectiveness of the machine and government has gone to town saying it would be the basis for computing workers’ salaries which is a clear violation of the Minimum Wage Act of the National Assembly and attempt to casualise Kogi workers. The leaders appealed to the state government to give Kogi workers respite after the excruciating pains they went through in the hands of the government in the course of the screening exercise by paying the outstanding arrears owed to certain categories of workers and also paying the 40% and 60% balance of August to December 2017 salaries to the state and local government employees. The organised labour would also want to put on record that labour in Kogi State is not on any ego trip with government or an arm of any political party in the state but just a body in the forefront of ensuring a better treatment for members of the state workforce. They therefore urged government to urgently look into the November 2017 agreements with a view to implementing them so that industrial harmony can prevail in Kogi State.
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