Why 3000 Workers Were Suspended, Not Sacked – Okorocha

KayCee
By KayCee January 20, 2016 22:20

The Imo state government has reacted to reports that over 3000 civil servants were recently sacked.

Speaking to  Silverbird Television, Ikenna Emeh, the SA to Governor Rochas Okorocha, dismissed reports that the affected workers were sacked.

According to him, the workers were not sacked but were suspended following discoveries that they were not duly employed.

Emeh added that the government’s revenue of 2.3billion as against a wage bill of N4.1billion is no longer suitable to sustain payment for all workers in the state.

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He said: “When the negotiation for minimum wage came up, it was Governor Rochas Okorocha that first declared he was going to pay N20000, against the N18000 which was proposed and the Imo state government is still paying N20000 from that time till now.

“For the past four years the Imo state government has never had any issue with labourand we are embarrassed that they have failed to see reasons with us as we all know of the financial challenges facing the nation.

“What the Imo state government is doing is that we are being pro-active, we are taking steps as against a N4.1billion wage bill. Our capital receives is N1.9b while our Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) is between N350million and N450million, so we can do an average of N400million. If you add N400million to N1.9billion, it gives you N2.3billion as against the wage bill of N4.1billion. So we are having a deflation of N1.7billion.

“No manager of resources will continue to borrow to pay wages, so we have therefore invited labour to see reasons with us. One of our proposals is that everybody across board will receive 20% or 30% as it will be enough to make the state running. Whenever money shows up, we know what everyone wants; we’ll calculate and pay everyone. The other option is let us use the salary scale applicable in Enugu state. While Imo state receives less in revenue and IGR, we are the highest paying state in the southeast.

“In Imo state, the salary scale of law officers in Imo state, a step 5 level 9 which is the entry point of a lawyer into the ministry, is about N346000 while his counterpart graduate is taking less than N57000. When we tabled this matter before labour, they agreed with the government to a joint committee and the meeting is on-going and we were in negotiation.

“We know that a labourer is entitled to his wages, but who have lost their job? The people who fall under this category were not properly employed although they were not sacked but suspended. We have seen situation where people got employment through their relatives at the head.”

However, reacting to Emeh’s remarks, Austin Chilakpor, the chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Imo state chapter said workers were dismissed without receiving their salaries.

He said: “Workers are being owed salaries for months and we were having meetings with some government officials and we explained to them the need to pay these workers, but all to no avail.

“On July 8, government invited us to a meeting and at the end of the meeting; we agreed to sheath our sword while government agreed they were going to pay one month across board. To our greatest surprised after one month, government didn’t pay any. We had no other alternatives than to proceed on a warning strike. But government described the strike as politically motivated.

“They say they don’t have money and gave us an alternative because the wage bill is much and we said we are willing to make some concession because they threatened that if we don’t make concessions then we’d be sacked. To this regard, a committee was set up, four from labour, four from the government. Hon Emeh IKenna was the chairman of that committee and our aim was to see if we (labour) can sacrifice anything to see that government pays. But to our greatest surprise when government was to pay these workers by December, they gave them forms to fill and this form becomes a condition for you before you could get your salaries.

“We told our members not to fill the forms and what government did was to announce indefinite suspension of workers without pay when the committee was supposed to meet yesterday, Tuesday, January 19 at 10am.

“Everything you do to discharge a worker from his service must follow due process. Before these workers gained employment, there were publications for vacancy and those who were interested applied. Those who had good qualifications were invited for interviews and after that those who made it were written to and subsequently appointment given. These people cannot be asked to go like that.”

But, in a swift response to Chilakpor’s allegations, Emeh had this to say: “The NLC chairman is right to an extent but government took this action because we have “civil servants” who are not proper civil servants.

“We also have parastatals and agencies created by law to deliver some service to Imo people. When we want to give employment, we pull staff from the ministry to go and staff these agencies but what happens overtime is that the “bosses” over there will keep employing people hoping that government will grant approval. These people have now bloated the wage bill. Our directive was that all the people affected in these agencies should go back to their ministries so as it could be confirmed if they were duly employed or not. So who are we sacking?

“Concerning the salaries of the duly employed workers, the government has made necessary payments.”

Obindigbo.com.ng recalls that Governor Rochas Okorocha had allegedly sacked over 3,000 workers in 19 parastatals, agencies and departments.

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KayCee
By KayCee January 20, 2016 22:20