By Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu, Chinedu Adonu & Chinonso Alozie
NIGERIAN workers in the southeast geo-political zone , yesterday, trooped out in their thousands to celebrate 2018 May Day with protests and complaints over their conditions. The complaints of the workers cut across salary arrears,pension arrears and other poor conditions of service.
In Imo, workers said their protest would continue until the government decides to pay them 100 per cent of their salaries. They stated this at Heroes Square in Owerri, during 2018 May Day celebration.
They were also not happy that pensioners in the state, had not been paid their pension between 30 to 54 months among other labour issues.
According to the demands by the workers as presented by the state chairman of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Mr Paul Akalazu, gratitutes had not been paid since 1998.
It will be recalled that the Imo state government entered into an agreement of 70/30 per cent salary payment formula in 2016, with the state leadership of NLC.
Akalazu said: “Sir, you are aware that the workers have been receiving percentage salaries since January 2016.
“The workers have received between 70 and 30 per cent salaries with the exception of those on grade levels 01-06 that recieve 100 per cent. The reason for the percentage salary was attributed to the national economic recession.
“The state of the pensions payment and the hardship experienced daily by pensioners in the state is having a retrospective effect on public service.
“When workers remember that the pensioners are owed between 30 and 54 months of pensions as obtained in different sectors, it kills their morale because of the uncertainty that would face them when they retire.”
Other controversial issues raised by the workers included “ Non payment of gratuities, non-payment of salaries to Ada-Palm workers, payment of arrears owed lawyers in the Ministry of Justice, poor funding of local government councils and release of promotion exercise among others.
Workers, pensioners reiterate support for Ugwuanyi’s re-election
In Enugu, civil servants and pensioners converged at the popular Michael Okpara Square to mark the 2018 Workers’ Day, where they celebrated the good works of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The public and civil servants and retirees, including private workers, through the addresses presented separately by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo, represented by his deputy, Comrade Maurice Eze and his counterpart from the Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe, respectively eulogized Gov. Ugwuanyi for his “exemplary leadership style” and “labour-friendly disposition” in the state.
The workers reiterated their stance on the earlier endorsement of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s re-election in 2019, stressing that “the reason for the clamour for continuity is based on the outstanding performances of Governor Ugwuanyi”
They highlighted the achievements of the governor that have impacted positively on their lives such as “prompt payment of monthly salaries/pensions, other allowances to state public and civil servants; absorption of 54 per cent of total cost of 100 housing units at Elim Estate allocated to workers; payment of outstanding arrears of salaries/pensions/allowances to Local Government Staff, through prudent utilisation of 100 per cent of LG share of the Paris Club Refunds; promotion of teachers and recruitment of over 4000 school teachers as well as elongation of terminal grade of qualified primary school teachers to level 16.”
In his address, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who felicitated with the workers said: “I have come here as one of you because I am also a worker and I want to thank you all for your prayers and for the wonderful support, cooperation and understanding that you have continued to offer us as we strive to fulfill the mandate that the good people of Enugu State had graciously given to us.”
Ebonyi workers reject deduction of pension from salaries
In Abakaliki, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, promised better pay rise for civil servants of the state, while assuring that the state government would pay the proposed new national minimum wage when fully implemented by the federal government.
Addressing a crowd of Ebonyi workers across the state at the Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium, Abakaliki, Umahi said outstanding pensions and gratuities owed workers since the creation of the state would be paid on or before the 15th of May, 2018 while directing all ministries to work out the new promotion entitlements and to ensure that it is reflected in the salaries of the newly prompted workers on or before 15th of May 2018 when salaries are usually paid.
“May I also assure you that Ebonyi State shall adopt proposed new national minimum wage when approved. We shall do in keeping with our promise which we made to the workers that we shall treasure their support and repay them for their support,” he said.
Clear salary arrears, gratuity- Labour to Abia govt
In Abia, organized labour, yesterday urged the state government to clear the backlog of arrears of salaries owed some workers in the state.
Labour also tasked the state government on the need to also commence the payment of gratuity to retired workers in the state, saying that gratuity has not been paid in the state in the last 16 years.
Addressing workers during the 2018 May Day held at Ibeku High School, the state chairman of NLC, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, however commended the government on the regular payment of salaries to MDAs.
“It should be noted that Local Government councils are in salary arrears of four months, Secondary School Teachers, five months; Primary School Teachers, two months; ASUBEB four months; ABSUTH Aba, six months; Health Management Board, six months; Abia Polytechnic, nine months; the same situation that prevails in Abia College of Health Science and College of Education Technical Arochukwu”, the NLC chairman said.
According to him, gratuity was last paid in Abia State 16 years ago and advised the state government to set aside about N150 million monthly to commence the clearance of the arrears.