In the light of the recent controversy surrounding the payment of workers’ salaries in Imo State, the state government has denied slashing salary of local government workers as alleged saying the claim by the workers as reason for rejecting cheques for May salary was spurious and misleading.
In a statement issued yesterday in Owerri by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, he said government’s problem with council workers was on the method of payment and not cutting down of salary.
“The government did not tamper with the local government workers’ salaries. Their salaries are the same. The only issue is the method of payment.
“The government does not feel comfortable again lodging the workers’ salaries in designated bank accounts for few individuals to be drawing and paying the workers cash. This old method could no longer be advisable until the ghost workers are fished out. Hence, the cheque payment method,” he explained.
According to him, the May salary for the local government workers had been ready since and that of June is about to commence.
Onwuemeodo maintained that the state government insists on the payment with cheques in order to check ghost worker syndrome in the local government system.
“It is the responsibility of the government to pay the workers. It is also the responsibility of the workers to complain when the salary is not paid. But it is not the responsibility of the workers to tell the government the method of payment.
“Those responsible for the non-collection of the cheques should be made to understand and appreciate this fact and allow the workers to collect their cheques,” the CPS added.
He further explained that Permanent Secretaries assigned with the responsibilities of going to the local governments to issue the cheques to the workers had been at the respective council headquarters for more than five times without the workers allowed to collect their cheques.
The CPS noted however, that it is disturbing that while other workers in the states had collected their cheques for the May salary, those expected to join hands with the government to deal with the ghost workers incident in the local governments, are the ones who are preventing the local government workers from collecting their cheques for more than three weeks now.
When contacted the state president of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Comrade Ambrose Onuoha stated that the reason for rejecting the cheques was the deductions made on each worker’s salary for the month in question.
Mr. Onuoha who frowned at the situation and wondered why government should engage in such act of taking away salaries of workers insisting that the action was unjustified.

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