From several reports, the Bayelsa state government has suspended and also stopped the payment of 3,403 staffs in the current public service reforms. Rev Thomas Zidafomo, who is the Head of Service of Bayelsa state, gave the instruction that the monthly salaries of 222 staff of Bayelsa owned media houses and 3,181 non-teaching staff in the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) should be suspended.
In a letter that was dated Apri 6, 2018, Zidamofo directed that the salaries of the affected workers that have not been paid and also listed as ‘excess workers’ should be paid to the Accountant General of Bayelsa. However, the unions have agitated against the action and asked the government to have a second thought on its decision.
Inside a statement that was issued by Mr. John Ndiomu the Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and Mr. Tari Dounana, his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), are the protest of the unions.
Labour said that withholding the monthly salaries of workers that have been shortlisted for redeployment was out of place, and enjoined the state government to carry out the reforms in compliance with Public Service Rules.
“Labour wishes to draw government’s attention to the ongoing public service reforms. It is proper to note that redeployment of staff is a norm but stoppage of salaries is not in line with civil service rules.
Labour therefore calls on government to review its directive on the stoppage of salaries as it is against the public service rules.
We also wish to remind government of its pledge that the reforms would not lead to job losses and ask that it abides by it.”
On Monday, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) of SUBEB, also combined in enjoining the state government to reconsider its decision. Together with 3,181 non-teaching staff that was affected by the reform, NASU gave out a 14-day ultimatum to the state government to have a second thought of their decision or they will go on strike.
In a statement that was made after an urgent congress of the union, the Bayelsa chapter Chairman of the union Mr. Geku Ebiwari said that the staffs has not made any attempt that will result in the suspension of their monthly salaries. He said that if the exercise was a re-deployment as they claimed initially, there was no need for averting the payment of the workers.
However, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said that there was no reconsideration of the reforms. He said that the state government would pursue the policy to a logical end. He maintained that the reform was essential to “rid the public service of an excess labour force and in the process deliver a leaner and efficient workforce that is better equipped to serve the state.”
Iworiso-Markson reassured the staffs that they haven’t been retrenched and explained further that the workers that were affected would be trained and deployed to other areas of need. According to him, those not needed in the public service will be dismissed and they will be given capital to start up businesses of their choice.