Abia workers to Ikpeazu :’We ‘re dying, stop building roads, pay us first’ * Pensioners disrupt workers’ day celebration
* Decries 25 months of pension arrears
By Steve Oko
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has strongly criticized Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State over the stockpile of workers’ salary arrears in the state.
NLC which descended on the Governor Wednesday during the Workers’ Day celebration in Umuahia told Ikpeazu that “regular payment of salaries is more important than building of roads”.
Abia pensioners disrupt workers’ day celebration in Umuahia
Chairman of NLC Abia State, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, who spoke the mind of workers lambasted Ikpeazu for owing workers and pensioners with impunity.
He said that the state of salary arrears in Abia had deteriorated under Ikpeazu’s watch.
His words :” Congress has observed that instead of the salary arrears to be reducing from one year to another, it has been increasing, meaning that our state government or the managers of the financial resources of the state are not doing well.
“It should be noted that roads in the stomach of the working class are in jeopardy.
“Labour wants to remind our Governor that it is only the living that walks on a very good road.
“Pensioners are dying daily in their numbers as these people are not paid their pension and gratuities for upward of 17 for pension and 16 years for gratuities.
“This situation is worst now and we do not want to say it is an offense or sin to delve into the civil service careers “.
According to NLC, a critical analysis of the indebtedness of salary arrears in the state reveals the following: ” college of Education Technical Arochukwu -15 months; ABSUTH Aba -12 months; and Secondary school teachers -10 months.”
Others include : Hospital Management Board – 9 months; Abia College of Health &Science – 13 months; Abia State Universal Basic Education Board – 6 months; and Local Government workers -two and half months.
NLC also said pensioners were being owed for 19 to 25 months.
The labour union said non regular payment of salary would dampen the morale of workers and adversely affect their output.
“The issue of salary arrears is growing in a higher dimension which is not in the best interest of the service and this will negatively affect the service”, NLC regretted.
On pensioners, NLC noted with regrets that gratuities were last paid in the state 17 years ago.
NLC advocated the setting aside of N150 million monthly for payment of gratuities to halt the worrisome early grave of retirees.
Labour equally regretted that despite assurances by the state government during last year’s workers day that both 2017 and 2018 leave allowances would be paid, both allowances are yet to be defrayed.
Meawhile, pensioners disrupted activities marking the workers’ day celebration at Ibeku High School.
No sooner had match past by various unions commenced than the retirees stormed the arena and demanded payment of their pensions.
Decked in black attires the pensioners chanted war songs and brandished placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the senior citizens fell near the podium where the Head of Service had mounted to take salute from the workers.
It took the intervention of the state former Labour leader and constitutional lawyer, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere to pacify the angry pensioners.
The Deputy Governor Sir Ude Oko Chukwu who was originally scheduled to represent Gov Ikpeazu who is out of the country, apparently got wind of the pensioners’ plans and stayed away from the event to avoid any embarrassment.
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