From John Adams, Minna
Government activities have been grounded in Niger State following the resumption of strike action by organised labour in the State in response to the 30 per cent slash on the salaries of state public workers.
The resumption of the strike, which had been suspended earlier in June, follows the State Government’s decision to resume the 30 per cent slash of civil servants’ salaries in November, despite its failure to refund the deduction in June as agreed with labour before the strike was suspended.
After a series of meeting with the government last week, which ended in deadlock, organised labour, after its expanded meeting on November 30, issued the State Government a five-point demand to meet, threatening an indefinite strike action should the government fail to fulfil them.
Labour demands include the reinstatement of the 80 civil servants unlawfully dismissed from service this year, the refund of the 30 per cent slash in June salaries, payment of arrears of 30,000 minimum wage, illegal slash of November salaries of civil servants and stoppage of persistence subjection of it members to unnecessary staff screening.
Labour agreed to give the government until 12 midnight December 1 to address all it grievances, promising to its suspended strike action should their demands not be met.
The State Government on its part refused to change its stand, insisting that it has no alternative than to ‘cut cost’, citing the dwindling revenue from all sources.
‘We are in a period of crisis. This crisis is not peculiar to Niger State; all over we faced COVID-19, as we are seeing the eclipse of COVID-19, we are entering another crisis, even stronger nations have come out to declare the precarious situation we are in,’ Commissioner for Information and Strategies Mallam Mohammed Sani Idris stated, delivering the government’s position.
‘The truth is that Nigeria is not left out of this recession. Niger State as a unit is not immune. That is why government is appealing for workers’ understanding in the payment of percentage salaries in this month of November.’
According to him, the State is spending a lot of money to equip security forces to fight the violent banditry and insurgency that has roiled parts of the North, adding that ‘we cannot sacrifice the security of the State on the alter of payment of salaries.
‘In all honesty, government cannot forgo security and pay salaries alone,’ the Commissioner continued. ‘We cannot relent in our ongoing onslaught against banditry. This inconvenience for workers is temporary.’
Meanwhile, all government offices, including the busy State Secretariat, has been shut down by the strikers, with State workers turned back at the gate.