There are strong indications that labour/government relationship, particularly between members of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Imo State chapter and the State government is about to go sour following revelations made by the Imo State President of NULGE, Comrade Richard Eze.
Comrade Eze, gave an indication of a looming showdown with the State Government over non payment of salaries, in a statement he read and issued to newsmen at the union’s Secretariat along Port Harcourt Road, Owerri shortly after the Union’s Delegate’s Congress meeting.
He stated that members are aggrieved over nonpayment of their March 2020 salaries, despite appeals to the State government over the difficulties associated with the lock-down of the state, in a bid to check the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him “My beloved fellow comrades and members, my heart bleeds, I feel pained and down-casted watching my respectable and hardworking local government workers locked down for about two weeks now without our due March salaries even in the state of global pandemic called Coronavirus, coupled with the Easter celebrations all on empty stomach, orchestrated by the non challant attitude of the state Government who are dilly-dallying over payment of our legitimate salaries
Eze pointed out that it is sad that such is taking place in Imo State at a period other States Government had paid March salaries together with other palliatives to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
He expressed surprise that some of the union members were heard, venting their anger by casting aspersions and denigrating the state leadership of the union of betrayal, noting that they entrusted them with a mandate to respect and protect their interest(s)
The Labour leader however lamented that such accusations cannot be ruled out in such helpless and hopeless conditions they are subjected to by the present state Government.
According to him, “These outbursts are envisaged because a hungry man they say, is an angry man. But let it be on record, that the present NULGE under my leadership, had not relented nor compromised in its constitutional role of fighting for the welfare of its teeming members which includes regular payment of our monthly salaries.
“Recall that these insensitive and anti worker attitude of our state Government as earlier posited in our press release by our ebullient state PRO which was posted in our platforms, news media and on the social media was noticed at the point of payment of our February salaries” he noted.
He recounted how at a meeting held on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, which had in attendance all LGA Treasurers and DAGs, NULGE SEC members, they were invited to a meeting with the Governor.
According to him, at the meeting where they engaged in dialogue and pleaded with the Governor for payment of February salaries, the Governor assured them that he will comply but demanded filing of verification forms as condition for payment of salaries to all Local Government workers in the State.
Eze also revealed that the workers religiously and judiciously filled and returned the forms as directed by the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs.
He lamented that the same Bureau for LGAs, later issued out another directive same week, that the submission of salary vouchers be made to the Bureau on monthly basis, and not to the office of Auditor General for LGAS, a directive he claimed, the 27 LGA Treasurers complied with within a week.
The NULGE President further revealed “Another drama played out on the 21st of March 2020, when the Auditor General for LGAs informed us that His Excellency, the Governor of Imo state, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma, had instructed that all the hard copies of the salary vouchers of the 27 LGAs together with the bank account, BVN and phone numbers of all the workers must be submitted to him on or before Wednesday 25th March, 2020, failure of which March 2020 salaries will not be paid
He continued “We saw that as another ploy to cease our salaries at the point of payment. We want to commend the leadership of the Treasurers Forum and all the payroll officers and Treasurers of the 27LGAs for their doggedness in ensuring that we met the stringent conditions spelt out by the state government in the production of soft copies of salary vouchers “he cried out.
Eze expressed regret that all efforts put in place as enumerated above were all in futility, alleging that there was a ploy to punish “the helpless, hopeless and downtrodden local Government workers under a new guise that salaries pay roll are over-bloated.
“Who has seen such a maltreatment even in the face of global pandemic orchestrated by COVID-19 ? “. he asked.
The Labour leader wondered why the State Governo will allow the workers to go home on empty stomach on the guise of salary verification.
He appealed to their members to keep faith with God who has sustained them thus far, assuring that He will continue to sustain them in times of turbulence.