Workers in Abia State civil service have demanded more commitment of the state government to welfare and plight of workers in the state.
This is even as they asked the government to stop being insensitive to the plight of workers in the state.
The workers who spoke to our reporter at Ibeku High School, Umuahia, the state capital, venue of the 2019 May Day celebration said it was criminal and an act of insensitivity for the government, despite the internally generated revenue and allocation by the federal government to owe its workers arrears of salaries.
Some of the workers including Mrs. Ifeoma and Mr. Okoroafor questioned the sincerity of the political class in the country and the state as well go about amassing wealth and living in affluence while the people that they lead live in penury and abject poverty.
While they admitted that backlog of salaries owed to some government parastatals including teachers in the state weren’t peculiar to the Ikpeazu led administration, they charged the incumbent administration in the state to go beyond rhetoric, but rather ensuring that salaries, pensions, gratuities and other benefits including promotion and leave allowances were promptly paid.
On the excuse given by the state government that the wage bill of the state is high, the workers called on the state government to ensure that they cut cost of governance, stressing that until the state government takes the welfare of its workers and also pay the recent N30, 000 minimum wage approved by the federal government, they won’t get the best out of its workforce.
A melodrama which obstructed the event for about 5-10mins ensued when members of the Abia State chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners dressed in a mournful attire took the centre stage when they gained entrance into the parade ground with banners of different inscriptions in protest over the inability of the state government to pay their 18 months pension and gratuity arrears.
In his address, the State chapter chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, while thanking the Ikpeazu led administration for paying Ministries, Departments and Agencies regularly, however regretted that the issue of salary arrears were growing in higher dimension which he said would negatively affect the service.
Obigwe who lamented that instead of salary arrears reducing, it has rather been increasing, a situation the state labour leader said that it showed that it is either that the state government or its financial managers were not doing well in the management of the financial resources of the state.
According to the NLC boss, a critical analysis of the indebtedness of salary arrears in the state reveals that workers of Abia State Teaching Hospital Aba were owed 12 Months’ salary arrears, Hospital Management Board (HMB) 9 months, Secondary School Teachers 10 months, Abia Poly 13 months, Arochukwu School of Education Technical 15 months, Abia State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB) 6 months, Local government 2 and half, Abia College of Health and Sciences, Aba 13 months, Pensioners 19-25 months respectively.
Comrade Obigwe who also used the opportunity of the event to commend president Buhari for approving and signing the new N30, 000 minimum wage into law, expressed hope that the state government would graciously implement the payment as approved by the President, stressing that there won’t be any Abia formula.
The Governor of the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu represented by the Head of Service, Dr. Onyi Wamah, in his response assured that the state Government is doing all within its Powers to offset all outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities
Ikpeazu thanked the workforce for their resilience, commitment and prayers, adding that the 2018 promotion has been approved for workers in the state. This is even as he also promised that the State Government was willing to pay the New N30, 000 minimum wage.