John Adams, Minna
Niger State government has concluded plans to slash salaries of civil servants in by 50 per cent to be able to cope with the present economic reality.
But the Organised Labour in the state has vowed that any attempt to slash the salaries of workers would be met with stiff resistance and this has set the stage for a possible showdown between government and labour.
Indication to this emerged on Monday when government told officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and those of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at a meeting held in the office of the Head of Service that it could no longer afford to pay 100 per cent salary effective December.
The meeting was attended by all members of the State Executive Council except Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, and permanent secretaries.
The meeting was addressed by the Accountant General, Alhaji Abdullahi Saidu, during which the news was broken to the workers.
The accountant general reportedly said there was a drastic decline in the state income from the federation account and internally generated revenue (IGR) as a result, the state was in a financial mess, and, therefore, had no choice than to take the painful decision.
Aside the dwindling allocation from the federation account, Saidu disclosed that series of deductions from source had further depleted the income of the state.
The Accountant General also informed the meeting that one percent above 50 will shot government into deficit of about N1.7 billion hence the decision to slash the salaries.
Pleas by government that the 50 percent deduction would be refunded when the economy improves, however, fell on deaf ears of representatives of labour.
It was gathered that officials of the state NLC and TUC categorically told government that it would not accept one percent less.
They were said to have told government team that “salary payment is a first line charge” and as such, regardless of what government got, it should pay 100% salaries and source funds for other projects and programmes.
Labour on Tuesday summoned an emergency congress where the issue was put before the delegates.
The congress held at the Labour House rejected the decision of government but asked all affiliate unions to return to their members for consultation. As at 2pm, yesterday, no fewer than 28 affiliate unions had returned their reports, backing the NLC in whatever step it will take to make government change it decision.
NLC and the TUC officials would meet today to decide on the next line of action.
Commissioner for Information Alhaji Mohammed Sani Idris could not be reached as he was said to have traveled out of the state on official engagements.