Against the backdrop months of unpaid salaries of local government workers in Bayelsa State, council of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, have planned to embark on an indefinite strike.
The unions have, therefore, directed all LGA workers to close all the secretariats of the councils and health facilities across the LGAs on Monday and comply with the directive indefinitely until the regular payment of salaries and the settlement of arrears were resolved.
They rationalised that some LGAs in the state were owed eight and a half months while others were owed up to 15 months.
The workers’ unions also faulted the state government for shifting the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries to the LGAs, saying the development was seriously depleting the resources of the councils hence their inability to pay salaries.
They called on the government to take the responsibility of payment of primary school staff salaries and hand over infrastructural projects to the councils with all counterpart funds from the Federal Government and donor agencies.
In a six-point communiqué issued after their joint State Executive Council meeting in Yenagoa on Thursday, the state Chairman of MHWUN, James Adama, on behalf of other unions, faulted the imposition of 100 per cent salary obligations of primary schools on the councils.
The unions said the government’s stance was contrary to the long-standing policy of successive administrations in the state and the 4th schedule of the reviewed 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
The bodies noted that previous administrations in the state took about 80 per cent of primary schools wage bills to reduce the burden of the LGAs in order to meet salary obligations.
They regretted that the current administration of Governor Seriake Dickson, without allegedly consulting widely, shifted the entire 100 per cent to the councils, which unfortunately had been finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries.
The communiqué read in part, “The Joint councils in session re-echoed the appeals by the Nigeria Union of Teachers, the Nigeria Labour Congress and other critical stakeholders that the state government should take the lion’s share of the payment of primary school staff.
”We hereby call on Governor Seriake Dickson to graciously take over 100 per cent payment of primary school teachers in order to allow the councils to survive and pay salaries of their staff regularly.
”We further wish to remind Governor Dickson of the 1999 Constitution with as amended (2011) 4th schedule, Section 7 (2) functions of a LGAs which is participatory in the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education.
”That the alternate salary payment between staff of the councils and staff of primary schools, a month after another, is still half salary in disguise. We roundly condemn this trend, because not only are council workers true citizens of this state, but also the Governor has since made a pronouncement to prohibit half-salary payment in the state.”
The workers’ bodies urged the government to release, without delay, the balance of the first tranche of the Paris/ London club fund refunds totalling N600m due to the LGAs from the additional amount received by the state.
They said that the reportedly released second tranche of the much-awaited refund upon receipt by the state government should be timely, transparently and judiciously released to the councils for the singular purpose of settling the arrears of salaries owed workers.
They added, ”The joint councils in session resolved further to appeal to government not to forcefully and unlawfully reduce the local government workforce under any guise to sustainably accommodate primary school teachers wage bills as such may be visited with mass protest of the over 14,000 council workers on the streets of Yenagoa.
”Consequently, in view of the hopelessness, despondency and sustained sufferings of workers in the councils, the joint council hereby unanimously resolves to resume the suspended indefinite strike with effect from Monday, July 24, 2017.
‘Accordingly, all LGA workers are directed to close all the secretariats of the councils and health facilities across the LGAs and comply with this directive indefinitely until the regular payment of salaries and the settlement of arrears are resolved.
”The council workers in Bayelsa since 2015 to date have suffered untold economic and social hardships due to irregular payment of their salaries ranging from eight and a half months to 15 months as of June 2017.”

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