Organised labour in Kogi state says workers are hungry and angry, and have called on the federal government to consider sending aid to them, because they are owed salaries between 11 and 21 months.
But the State’s chief Executive, Mr. Yahaya Bello, who has come under strong criticism from Nigeria Labour Congress ((NLC), Aliyu Wabba, for frittering away Bail-out funds and Paris Club refund, insists the grumbling and striking workers are being used by political opponents.
Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Olakunle Faniyi and Kolawole James and Joint Public Services negotiating council counterpart, Comrade Isah Abubakar, stated, “ a situation where workers could not afford even one meal a day and pay the school fees of their children is already a humanitarian issue.
” As it stands today in Kogi state, over 30 percent of the workforce are being owed 21 months salaries, 21 percent have unpaid salaries between 11 and 18 months, while about 45 percent took their salaries up till June this year.
“These are categories of workers that the Kogi state government is forcing to embrace the clock in, clock out policy of the government”.
They further blamed government for a barrage of falsehood against instead of seeking forgiveness from them.
Bello, who spoke through his aide, Kingsley Fanwo, said: .“This government has shown transparency and accountability by publishing our accounts and what has been paid to the individual worker in the state. No worker has come out to disclaim our facts.
“Facts at the disposal of government show that some desperate politicians are playing politics with the destiny of the people of Kogi state, who need the services for which these striking workers are paid. When we chose to confront the failed system of the past, we had no doubt of the attendant contention with the entrenched forces of retrogression who benefited from the blind corruption of the past.
“We have started a process of recovering our looted commonwealth from past leaders. A white paper implementation committee was constituted to recover the loot. But Labour was used to strikes. We shall remain focused in ensuring that we recover every kobo stolen from the coffers of this great state.
“We promised a reformed, robust, disciplined, digital and accountable civil service that will oil our New Direction Agenda. This administration is poised to pursue it to a logical conclusion to the benefit of the populace.
“We are not ignorant of the fact that some disgruntled elements are uncomfortable with the digitalization of the civil service operations which will curb truancy and corruption. As a responsible government, we have never denied owing workers a few months salary. We have paid half of July and we are in the process of paying the balance as well as the August salary.
“The need for labour to embrace dialogue stems from the paucity of resources across the nation. It is not peculiar to our state. We are ready to dialogue with labour when they return to work and we hope they will do that in the interest of the good people of Kogi state.
“We will be decisive if they remain adamant and continue to go violent on workers who do not believe in their agitation.”