Workers in Borno State under the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have urged the outgoing government of Governor Kashim Shettima to offset the over N20 billion owed retired workers since 2013.
The workers also urged the state government to implement the old N18,000 minimum wage in four local government areas while insisting that the government pay the balance owed workers in 23 other LGAs where only 20 per cent and 60 per cent of the old rate are being paid.
Speaking during an event organised to mark the 2019 May Day celebration in Maiduguri, the new state chairman of NLC, Bulama Abiso, said one of the biggest challenges facing workers especially the retirees, ”is the zero commitment of the state government to pay retired workers’ benefits since 2013.”
“We are asking the outgoing government of Borno to pay up all the outstanding arrears of allowances, pensions, and gratuities before May 29. If that is not done, we demand a commitment from the incoming government in that regard,” he said.
“Our demands from government consist payment of leave grants, and promotional benefits for state civil servants which have been stopped in the past three years.
“The nonpayment of retired workers pensions, which is up to N20 billion must be addressed at once,” he added.
He also said: “At the local government level, we have workers who are still being owed some percentages of their N18,000 minimum because; they only get 20 or 60 per cent of the old minimum wage.
“There are four local government areas where the workers have never benefitted from the N18,000 minimum wage till date. We still have teachers that still receive between N10,000 and N11,000 as their take home.”
The governor, represented by the state’s head of civil service, Muhammed Hassan, said the government is aware of the plight of the workers.
The official blamed the failure of the government to pay the dues ”on the nearly ten years of Boko Haram insurgency.”
“We are all aware that about 20 local government areas of the state have been affected by the insurgency; schools were destroyed, teachers and students were killed all because of the inhuman activities of the Boko Haram.
“With these challenges on the ground, it was difficult for the state government to take and implement fully, the wellbeing of workers.”
Mr Hassan said despite all the circumstantial changes, the state government ”has not failed in the payment of workers salaries as and when due”.
He said efforts are being made to address and ensure that the entitlement of workers is fully paid within available resources.
The official, however, ruled out the possibility of the Shettima administration paying the benefits within the 28 days left before the governor’s tenure expires.
“The incoming governor-elect, Professor Babagana, has taken note of all demands of workers and has promised to resolve them, ” he, however, said.