Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River State Commissioner for Education, Godwin Etta, has ordered workers owed 18 months areas of salaries to go home and stay if they can’t exercise patience anymore.
Etta, who stated this while addressing workers of the Examinations Results Centre (ERC) of the Cross River State Ministry of Education who protested in Calabar against 18 months arrears of salaries owed them.
The workers claimed that they were first engaged as ad hoc staff in 2015, but were all formally absorbed as permanent staff into the state civil service payrolls through formal appointment letters in November 2017.
The commissioner who described the workers as ingrates and unreasonable said Gov. Ben Ayade had done much to pay workers monthly without fail, even with the paltry monthly federal allocation of N2 billion.
He said: “The state government was still processing regularisation of the ERC staff members. These people were engaged as temporary staff and their stipends paid regularly.
“The governor was kind enough to direct their absorption into the state workforce which process we are still in. We have done much for them. They are ungrateful. If they won’t have the patience anymore, they are free to leave.”
Disagreeing with the commissioner over the issue of employment, the spokesperson of the workers, Mr. Johnson Agbor, said they were first engaged as ad hoc staff in 2015 and in November 2017 they were all formally absorbed as permanent staff into the state civil service through the formal appointment letters.
Agbor said they had met severally with the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Godwin Ettah, over their plight and they had appealed for payment of the backlog of their salaries.
He said: “I can tell you that we have our formal letters of appointment as permanent staff. We are civil servants under the state Ministry of Education since November 2017. We have not received salaries for 18 months. We are told that Governor Ayade says we are new staff and so, does not want to pay us.
“We have met with the Commissioner for Education twice to appeal for our salaries, but he would tell us that the governor says there is no money; that we should be patient or we should go home until when there is money for us.
“We have also met with the Accountant General of the state. He, too, would tell us that the governor has not approved any salaries for us. We all have families. We have rents to pay. We have school fees to pay for our children. We need to eat to survive.
When our conditions and plight became unbearable, we appealed to the commissioner to pay us the allowance they used to give us when we were ad hoc staff. Only two months salary was given to us.”