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    Sunday, December 20, 2015

    Bleak Christmas As Governors Fail To Pay Workers’ Salaries

    Bleak Christmas and New Year celebrations await many workers in the country as most state governments may not be able to pay salaries this December.
    Most states owe workers months of salaries and pensions going into 2015 Yuletide.
    About N300bn bailout recently arranged by the Federal Government for states to offset arrears of salaries and pensions failed to do the job.
    For instance, Osun State Government owes its workers three months salaries.
    Although the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Mr. Jacob Adekomi, could not be reached to confirm this, some workers who spoke with our correspondent said they would need their salary arrears to enjoy the Yuletide.
    The workers said the state government had been paying them half of their salaries since July, when they suspended their strike.
    One of the workers said that labour unions were not satisfied with the ‘pay cut’ but agreed to it in order to ensure the resolution of the impasse.

    Consultant to Osun State Government on Information, Mr. Sunday Akere, however, said the workers would be paid their October salaries next week.
    Akere said, “The committee met today and instructed that October salaries should be paid. We hope the money will get to workers’ accounts, latest by Wednesday (next week).
    “We will consider the payment of November salaries when we get November allocation. The Federal Allocation Committee has not met and we are waiting for that. The moment we receive the allocation, we will pay our workers; it is a priority.”

    In Oyo State, the last salary received by majority of the civil servants was for September 2015.
    A reliable source told our correspondent that the government had only just begun the payment of October salaries to local government workers in the state.
    A worker in a government ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The last salary that was paid was for September. We are being owed October and November salaries, but recently, the government began the payment of October salaries to council workers.
    “I cannot confirm when the entire state workforce will get October salaries or if the state government will pay our salaries up to December by Christmas.”

    In Kwara State, civil servants have not received their December salaries, but the situation is more pathetic for workers in state-owned tertiary institutions and local governments.
    Investigation revealed that workers in the colleges of education are being owed about seven months while their counterparts in local government councils are owed about four months’ salaries.
    It was also learnt that some principals and teachers in the state were being owed no less than four months’ salaries arrears.
    Kogi State civil servants have not received their salaries since October this year, same for local government council workers.
    Meanwhile, the council workers in the state have been collecting only a percentage of the full salaries ranging from 30 to 50 per cent, depending on the local government in question.
    Imo State workers are being owed salary arrears of between three and eight months, depending on the ministry.

    It was learnt that some parastatals in the state were being owed up to eight months in salary arrears.
    A civil servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said workers in the state were going through a hard time.
    Ekiti State Government has yet to pay November salaries to all civil servants in the state.
    Although some workers in the ministries have received their October salary, teachers who constitute the majority, have not received theirs.
    Some civil servants, who spoke to our correspondent, said they had no idea of when their November and December salaries would be paid.
    One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said civil servants were last paid in October when they received their September salaries.

    “What the government is doing is to use two months’ allocation to pay for one month, and we don’t know how long this would continue,” the civil servant said.
    The Akwa Ibom State Government has yet to pay its workers’ December salaries.
    A worker at the Ministry of Finance told our correspondent that inasmuch as the state did not owe workers’ salaries for previous months; it had yet to pay for December.
    The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the recent ruling by an Appeal Court, which nullified the last governorship election in the state, had made the fate of workers more precarious.
    The source said, with the judgement, no one was sure of when December salaries would be paid to workers.
    Also, civil servants in Ogun State had yet to get their December salaries as of Friday.
    Some of them, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, expressed their dismay, saying the delay was becoming worrisome.

    They said it was getting too late for them to shop for the Yuletide.
    One of them said, “By Monday, Christmas will be some days away, and things would have been very expensive in the market.”
    Findings in Enugu showed that workers had also yet to receive their December salaries by Friday.
    Some workers, who spoke to our correspondent on the issue, expressed concern and sadness over the situation, which they described as undermining their preparations for the festivities.
    In Niger State, workers had also yet to get their December salaries by Friday, but the Senior Special Adviser to the governor on media, Mr. Jide Orintunsin, assured that the salaries would be paid before Christmas.
    He said, “Our government has a cordial relationship with the organised labour in the state; we do not have problem with salaries.”

    In Delta State, workers are owed two months’ salaries by the administration of Ifeanyi Okowa, leaving many of them groaning under serious hardship. The Special Adviser on Labour matters to the governor, Mr. Mike Okeme, said the unpaid salaries were informed by the biometric exercise for civil servants.
    He said this became necessary to enable the state government to reduce the overbearing wage bill in the last few years.
    Okeme disclosed that the state’s monthly wage bill is between N7.6bn and N8.2bn.
    Majority of civil servants in Cross River State have been paid their December salaries since the middle of the month, but the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Cross River University of Technology, Dr. Stephen Ochang, said lecturers had yet to receive theirs.
    He said, “I am aware that workers have received their December salaries, but we have yet to get ours. I learnt the school authorities have received the money, so, hopefully by next week, we should get it. We only just got that of November yesterday.”

    Lagos State is also one of the few states that have paid its civil servants’ December salaries, and it did so in addition to 15 per cent bonus.
    As of June 2015, the Nigeria Labour Congress said 23 out of the 36 states of the federation were owing workers salaries.
    The report of the NLC Task Force on employees salary arrears across the country showed that the debtor states include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kogi. Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara.
    The states are owing their employees salary arrears of at least six months.
    According to the report, while some of the states had paid salaries of workers up to date, some were owing arrears of pensions running into months.
 The States owing salaries or pensions are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross Rivers, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, and Kogi.
Others are Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara states.
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