NLC berates Ayade for billion-naira unpaid pensions, workers’ salaries

Mudiaga Affe, Calabar

The Cross River State wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress on Wednesday berated Governor Ben Ayade over the non-payment of arrears amounting to several billions of naira to pensioner and workers.

The union gave the governor seven days, which began on Wednesday (today), to implement a Memorandum of Understanding reached on July 2, 2017. Otherwise, they said, the workers would resume their strike.

Addressing reporters at the end of its State Executive Council meeting at the NLC Secretariat in Calabar, the state NLC chairman, Mr. John Ushie, also said it was wrong for the governor to have paid the December salary on November 30, adding that it was unfortunate.

The workers had, on July 2, 2017 suspended an indefinite strike following an agreement embodied by the MoU with the state government.

Ushie said, “We express our disappointment with the government for failure to honour some critical aspects of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed on July 2, 2017.

“Among them are some of the issues of the failure of government to pay gratuity to retirees from June 2013 till date.

“We are here again to tell the whole world that that agreement was not kept and the government has jettisoned the agreement and that has led to this meeting today (Wednesday) as directed by the National Executive Council meeting, which was held on November 16.

“The NEC directed all state councils, where the government has not implemented the full payment of salaries, arrears of salaries, arrears of pensions and gratuities, to go back and strategise.

“And that was done on the basis of the fact that the Paris Club refund has been released to all the state governments and that money was meant specifically to pay arrears of salaries, gratuities and pension.

“Today, we are still discussing the issue of gratuity of 2013, which the governor himself told us that the second Paris Club Fund that was coming was to be used for.

“As it stands, the government of Cross River is owing gratuity from 2013 till date. And soon, we will enter 2018, as the workers continue to retire without their entitlements.”

Speaking on the rush to pay the December salary, Vice Chairman of NLC, Mr. Edim Oyongha, said it was unfortunate, adding that the union had worked with several administrations in the state without being shut out.

“We are in a pitiable situation. We all want salary but we do not want this upfront payment. We were paid December salary on November 30, even at that, not all categories of workers are normally being paid. A lot of them are still being owed, as it does not cut across,” he lamented.

Ushie, in his view, said it was not proper for a state government to have paid, as workers would now have to stay for two months without receiving any pay, adding that it was not a proper way to plan.

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