Reports reaching us has it that the Bayelsa state government has suspended and stopped the salaries of 3,403 workers in the current public service reforms. Rev Thomas Zidafomo, the Head of Service of Bayelsa state, gave the directive that the salaries of 222 staff of Bayelsa owned media houses and 3,181 non-teaching staff in the State Universal Basis Education Board (SUBEB) be suspended.
In a letter dated Apri 6, 2018, Zidamofo directed that the withheld salaries of the affected workers listed as ‘excess workers’ be paid to the Accountant General of Bayelsa. However, the unions have protested against the action and asked the government to have a rethink on its decision.
Contained in a statement issued by the Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. John Ndiomu and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Tari Dounana, is the protest of the unions.
Labour stated that withholding the salaries of workers listed for redeployment was out of place, and urged the government to carry out the reforms in compliance with Public Service Rules. They
“Labour wishes to draw government’s attention to the ongoing public service reforms. It is proper to note that redeployment of staff is a norm but stoppage of salaries is not in line with civil service rules.
Labour therefore calls on government to review its directive on the stoppage of salaries as it is against the public service rules.
We also wish to remind government of its pledge that the reforms would not lead to job losses and ask that it abides by it.”
On Monday, the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) of SUBEB, joined in urging the government to rescind its decision. Together with 3,181 non-teaching staff affected in the reform, NASU issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government to rescind its decision or they embark on strike.
In a statement issued after an emergency congress of the union,Mr. Geku Ebiwari, the Bayelsa chapter Chairman of the union said that the workers were not under any trial to result in the suspension of their salaries. He said that if the exercise was a re-deployment as claimed, there was no need to stop the salaries of the workers.
However, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, said that there was no rescinding of the reforms. He said that the government would pursue the policy to a logical conclusion. He maintained that the reform was necessary to “rid the public service of an excess workforce and in the process deliver a leaner, smarter and productive workforce that is better equipped to serve the state.”
Iworiso-Markson reassured the workers that they haven’t been sacked and explained that the affected workers would be trained and deployed to other areas of need. According to him, those not needed in the public service will be dismissed with financial assistance to kick off their businesses.
He went on to say that Governor Seriake Dickson will receive the report of the state Public Service Reforms Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (Rtd), on Tuesday. The submission of the report precedes the meeting between the governor and leaders of the organised labour on Wednesday.