The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ebonyi State chapter has urged the State Government to fulfill the remaining part of the promises it made to the workers during May Day celebration. In an interview with Radio Nigeria in Abakaliki, Chairman of the union, Comrade Leo Nka said that payment of arrears of pensions and gratuities were yet to be effected.
“The thing that we are hoping will be effectively dealt with as he promised are the pensions and gratuities, where he said he had set aside one billion naira: five hundred million will be going to the local governments, five hundred million will be going to the state, he said.
“Apart from the issues of payment of arrears of pensions and allowances, Comrade Nka mentioned implementation of payment of leave allowances as part of the promises to be fulfilled.”
Then, on the issue of the leave allowances, when the bill was given to him, as big as it was, he said that he was going to stagger the payment, also to start from this June so that every month a lump sum would be released with payment until the whole departments and parastatals and local governments and teachers will be taken care of. The NLC State Chairman further pointed out that some Local Governments owed up to eight years of the leave allowances while the Governor was disposed to paying the arrears he accumulated in his two year tenure only.
“If you talk about arrears, to tell you the truth, when it comes to that of the Local Government, it will be too staggering to comprehend because even before the recession – when the local governments were paying leave allowances based on their own convenience – I must tell you that the last leave allowances were paid in only three or four local governments and they were mainly in the southern part of the state.
“So presently, some local governments are owing up to seven/eight years of leave allowances across the state. Some are owing even more. So we are even talking about the leave allowances he wants to pay based on two years of his tenure. If we go to other years, it will run into billions of naira. Because before him, there were back-log of arrears of pensions and I know leave allowances and promotion arrears are laying there.”
Nka said that it was unfair for some former Local Government Chairmen to criticize the present administration and activities at the local government, noting that they and some of their principal officers were part of those that frustrated the workers those years when there was plenty.
He however commended Governor David Umahi led administration for lifting the embargo on promotion, abolishing the new controversial pension law and for ensuring the commencement of the refund of money deducted from the pension scheme.
According to Comrade Nka, “the ones that are yet to be done, he (Governor) promised to do this week. The delay was because of technical issues. For example, in the local government, he said that if they put the money in the salary, it would be taxed because it is an automated system. So because they didn’t want it to be taxed, they said if they pay salary, they would return it separately this week. That is just the snag on the issue of returning local government workers’ money that was deducted under the pension law that is now scrapped.”
The Ebonyi State NLC Chairman called on the State work force to appreciate the labour-friendly disposition of Governor Umahi and encourage him to do more by remaining committed to duty.