Story from Ahmad SAKA, Bauchi
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Bauchi State Chapter has alleged that over 10,000 Bauchi workers are yet to get their July salaries and gave the Bauchi State Government a one-week ultimatum to resolve the problems on pending workers’ salaries and other entitlements or to take any action that will toy industrial harmony in the State.
The State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Danjuma Saleh gave the ultimatum on Monday, during a press conference, held at the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Bauchi. He alleged that over 10,000 workers could not access their July salaries which the union alleged was an attempt to retrench workers in the state.
The Chairman said that it is mind-boggling that workers from some important MDAs such as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC), Specialist Hospital, Hospital Management Board, Ministry of Environment, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, House of Assembly were denied June and July 2020 salaries while 42 staff from Toro Local government Authorities and 74 PHC staff from Bogoro were denied April 2020 salaries.
“It is painful and mind upsetting when the government are distributing palliative across the country to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, but on the other hand, people are denied their legitimate earnings and salaries in the state”
“The meeting reviewed the activities of Dynatech System Solution consulting firm since their engagement to handle the issues of salaries and payroll in the state and conclude that they lack the capacity to undertake the job and we have lost confidence in their operations. We are fully aware that their job could be effectively handled by trained staff within the state service. It, therefore, amounts to a waste of resources to engage another unqualified firm to handle the same issue while experienced workers are made to remain redundant” he said.
He said that the union may take a line of action that will not guarantee industrial harmony in the state if the issues were not addressed.
Saleh said that the union after a meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, resolved to draw the attention of the government to the myriads of complaints received by the state council on the indiscriminate payment of workers monthly salaries.
Other problems Saleh highlighted are removal of a large number of workers from the payroll, cutting of a huge portion of some categories of staff allowances for the month of June and July 2020, especially those in the health sector.
He said that several efforts were made officially for the authorities to restore the salaries of omitted staff and allowances, some of which are over six months, but all fell on deaf ears.
Saleh said that the non-remittance of constitutional deductions of unions as at when due is an attempt to weaken the activities of the organised labour and can no longer be accepted, adding that the withholding of thrid party funds such as the National Housing Fund Contribution and Voluntary Contribution Schemes by Unions should be remitted along with salaries since they are deducted from workers salaries with their consent.
Responding to the allegation of the unions, the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Umaru Sanda Adamu, explained that some salaries were not paid because there were several fraudulent activities that the administration was trying to address.
“Some people have been benefitting from these fraudulent acts and would want to see it end. We will not for once deny any worker his or her legitimate salary without any reduction. Whosoever is collecting salary illegally are the ones complaining and we are trying to block such leakages,” he said.
He denied the allegation that the state government was trying to reduce the number of workers in the state, instead of pointing out that the administration has embarked on sanitizing the payroll and nominal roll of government which has identified certain anomalies.
“Salaries of some workers were not paid or were delayed because there were several issues with the payroll and nominal roll. For instance, some workers do not have the date of birth, some have changed places of work but were still on active service and so on, but still receive salaries, some have changed their place of placement some were having issues with missing vital data such as BVN, date of appointment, some have deceased accounts, some have absconded, some were collecting pension but not on active service, those number of people wherever we find such anomalies we stop their salary until genuine reason are given, Some were unscrupulous civil servants were collecting several salaries,” he said.
In his own remark, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Bauchi State on Civil Matter, Mr Andon Gin, expressed surprise that the unions were blaming the government for non-payment of salaries of some workers when they were in the picture of the current reforms being carried out by the administration to sanitise the payroll of workers and block siphoning of government resources through fraudulent means.
“We have enjoyed a robust relationship with the workers and the labour unions in the state. We have been in discussion with them. There is a mutual relationship with the union and a good one that would allow us to come under one roof to clarify these issues. This government came with the commitment to salvage the nominal and roll, When it came it, it established two committees of which the unions and MDAs were carried along,” he said.