*mark one year of ongoing screening
BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA – Organised Labour in Kogi state yesterday threatened to embark on a three-day warning strike following the alleged crisis and problems emanating from the staff verification exercise of the state government.
The workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiating Council (JNI), also lamented that many of their members have died due to the screening exercise that started on February 22, 2016.
Addressing newsmen in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, state chairman of NLC, Onuh Edoka, said the warning strike would commence on Monday, February 27 in solidarity with workers of the higher institutions of the state that had been on strike for over three weeks and those that lost their lives while trying to attend the screening.
He said some of the workers had accidents on their way to Lokoja and some were kidnapped and eventually killed by their abductors.
Edoka said it was unfortunate that about 45 percent of the state workforce had not received salary since January 2016.
The NLC chairman said despite the continued assurances by the state governor, Yahaya Bello, that no genuine worker would be shortchanged, events in the last one year pointed to the contrary.
He said following the complaints that greeted the release of the final report of the screening committee, the appeal panel put in place by government still had people that served on the screening committee as members.
Edoka said, “To redeem its image, government again inaugurated another committee tagged appeal committee, which was made up of over 70 percent of the members of the former review and complaint committee.
“Ordinarily, if due process is to be followed in an exercise of this nature, salaries of all workers are supposed to be paid simultaneously as the exercise last, while the final report of the screening committee is to be submitted to government, white paper committee for review and recommendations for executive council’s approval.
“Regrettably, the reverse was the case with the screening as government went ahead to implement the report and embarked on “selective payment ” of salaries to workers.
“It is surprising that at different fora, the governor has kept saying that genuine workers would not be victimised or shortchanged, yet there are cases of unpaid salaries to those who have been cleared, stagnation, omission and others.
“It is worrisome that Kogi workers are witnessing another fourth round of screening exercise in the state, yet government is insensitive to the plight of workers; due to non payment of salaries to all deserving workers, death, kidnapping, accident and other evils continue to befall workers for the past one year”.