By Joan Nwagwu
The failure of Benue state to pay salaries, pensions and gratuities after collecting bail-out funds and Paris Club refunds is troubling the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The Congress condemned the refusal of the government to pay the debt.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, expressed the union’s view in a statement signed by Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, NLC General Secretary, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Wabba made the position known when he led a delegation of the National Leadership to Makurdi in solidarity with the workers in the state after their one week warning strike.
Wabba at the end of the exhaustive interaction with the State Executive Council (SEC), described the Benue State situation as the worst case scenario in the country.
“Benue State situation has with a record of seven months of non-payment of salaries in ministries and parastatals; eleven months in local governments and teaching institutions, and thirteen months of pension arrears.
“I want to condemn in strong terms the refusal of the Benue State Government to pay salaries, pensions and gratuities even after collecting bail-out funds and Paris Club refunds.’’
He expressed dismay that the state had not paid its workers, whereas most other states, relatively had met salary and pension obligations to their workers and pensioners.
The NLC president noted that the Benue State Government had been indifferent and insincere to workers and pensioners.
He, however, said that the wilful act of the government was illegal as it violates all known rules of employment.
According to him, this is callous, morally reprehensible and a betrayal of the trust of workers and pensioners, who had voted the government into office.
“In light of the pains and indescribable suffering brought upon the workers, pensioners and their families, Congress had no hesitation in giving full support to any lawful action.
“This is including a full strike action, in pursuit of their salaries, pensions and gratuities,” he said.
He urged the workers and pensioners to remain united and not allow government or anyone else to distract them from their set objectives.
Wabba also said that experience had shown that state governments were not ready to pay salaries and pensions without a fight.
He added that that it was up to the workers in the state to do the needful to secure the regular payment of their salaries and pensions.
He also urged the workers and their families to ensure that they obtain voters registration cards and to equally vote en mass at elections as part of the process of using their numbers and rights.
Wabba further said the Congress would no longer fold its arms while workers in the state are grossly mistreated.
It was also resolved that the SEC would urgently take required steps to fully mobilise all the workers of the state for effective action to defend their interests.
He also assured the workers of the national leadership readiness to offer full support in that regard. (NAN)