Labour unions in Kaduna State have rejected plans by the state government to deduct 25 per cent of workers’ salaries to contribute to the state’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the state Deputy governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe had in a state broadcast on April 9, announced that modalities were being worked out for all employees of the state to contribute to the Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
Some heads of the labour unions confirmed to NAN that the Head of Civil Service of the State, Mrs Bariyatu Mohammed had met with labour leaders on April 14 on the planned salary deductions.
They identified participants at the meeting to include Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Join Union of Tertiary Institutions in Kaduna State (JUTIKS), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), RATTAWU and other affiliate unions.
The Chairman, Kaduna State Council of NLC, Ayuba Sulaiman told NAN, in Kaduna on Friday, that the planned deduction of 25 per cent of workers salary did not go down well with the union leaders.
“The proposed 25 per cent deduction was the decision of the government, we are not involved,” the NLC chairman said.
He however explained that the head of service had invited the union leaders and solicited for workers’ support and contributions to the Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
“We excused her and deliberated over the matter among ourselves and some of us suggested 3.0 per cent salary deduction while others suggested 5.0 per cent.
“At the end, we put it to vote and 13 of us voted for five per cent deduction while 10 others voted for three per cent.
“We informed her of the five per cent agreed deduction, which to us was reasonable, considering the emergency situation we all found ourselves.
“But the head of service rejected our offer and informed us that the State Executive Council had already concluded to deduct 25 per cent of workers salary.”
Suleiman added that the unions were waiting for a circular to that effect for them to decide on the next line of action.
Similarly, Mr Noah Danlami, Chairman, JUTIKS, also distanced the union from the proposed 25 per cent salary deductions, saying “we were not part of the decision.”
Danlami told NAN that: “We all thought we were invited for the meeting to agree on the percentage to be deducted, as part of workers contribution in support of government efforts.
“But to our surprise, our resolution as union leaders was turned down by the head of service, insisting that the 25 per cent deduction would be spread across the months April and May.
“The good thing is that, we have informed the head of service that we are only consenting to 5.0 per cent deductions and we still stand by it.
“If the government went ahead and deducted 25 per cent, then we are not party to it because we were not part of the decision in the first place. It was pure government decision,” he said.
The head of service did not respond to several calls and text messages put across to her by NAN on the matter.
However, a top government official, who did not want his name mentioned told NAN that the state government was yet to take final decision on the 25 percent deduction of the workers salaries.
According to him, what the government has decided firmly is that, political appointees such as commissioners, special advisers and heads of agencies will donate N500,000 in April as their contributions.
“As for civil servants, no decision has been reached, but discussions are ongoing.
“However, it is very important to note that Kaduna state is the first to pay minimum wage and workers below level 15 got at least 63 per cent increment on their salaries.
“The state is paying minimum pension and did not default in salary payment.
“This rancor by labour union leaders is being perceived as a mark of ingratitude to instigate public campaign against a government that has shown genuine concern for the welfare of workers,” the official claimed. (NAN)