By VINCENT UJUMADU
THE 200 pensioners of Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS, have dragged the state government to the Public Complaints Commission, over outstanding gratuities and pensions.
In a statement, the senior citizens appealed to the commission to prevail on the government to pay them their outstanding gratuities and pension to reduce death among them.
In the SOS message addressed to Anambra State Commissioner in the commission, Chairman of the union, Mr. Dennis Nwadukwe, and secretary, Mr. Paul Obah, said their action followed the decision of the government to deduct N4 million from the monthly subvention of the organisation.
The pensioners said this has made it impossible for ABS to fully pay them and other workers.
They added that following non-payment of their gratuities, 26 of their members had died, while three were seriously bed-ridden.
The statement read: “We are surprised that Anambra State government cannot pay ABS pensioners after serving the government through thick and thin, since the organization moved from Enugu to Awka, in spite of gazette No 55 of 1976 which scheduled ABS for pension and gratuity, as well as the edict of ABS, Enugu in 1985.
“The situation in ABS has degenerated to a point that even the small monthly pension and staff salary have been slashed to two –thirds for the month of June, 2011.
“We understand that Anambra State government mandated ABS to generate N26 million monthly to fund the organization when the radio and television cannot be received outside Awka.
“Anambra State government has to pay us the arrears the way governments pay because there is no part of the globe where gratuity is paid piece meal.
“That is why Anambra State government settled pension and gratuity arrears of local government pensioners in two batches early in 2011 with a total sum exceeding N7 billion.”
They argued that only about N200 million was required to pay them which, according to them, is just about the amount used in constructing two kilometers of road.
At another forum, former Deputy National President of Radio Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union, RATTAWU, Mr. Don Onyenji, said the situation in ABS was critical, adding that with the deduction of N4 million from the subvention of the organization, the workers’ morale had remained low.
He urged the state governor, Mr. Peter Obi, to intervene in the matter to boost the morale of the workers, adding that under the prevailing situation, the workers could not put in their best.