By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in the state yesterday failed to seal a deal on how the five-month salaries owed the workers would be paid by the Seriake Dickson-led government.
However, Dickson reportedly gave the workers several options towards upsetting the backlog of unpaid salaries, which the leadership of the state NLC told him they couldn’t unilaterally take a decision on.
The governor before now had insisted that the state currently lacks the resources to pay the workers as a result of dwindling monthly allocations from the federal government.
While the state, according to the governor, pays over N4 billion monthly to its workers as wage bill, it currently receives less than N2 billion from the centre for all its financial obligations.
But the leadership of labour, was said to have requested more time to hold further consultations with its members to properly articulate and consider the various options initiated by the government to address the payment of salaries of workers.
A statement signed by the governor’s spokesman, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, noted that during the meeting, Dickson said that the issue of sanitising the payroll system in the state, remained a major priority of the government to check future delays in the payment of workers’ salaries.
He was also said to have told the workers that to find a final resolution to the lingering delay in the payment of salaries of civil servants, labour should be prepared to collaborate with the government in its current efforts at sanitising the system.
“Dickson said the intention of the government was to establish a workable system that will stand the test of time, adding that, if properly handled, it will put the issue of payroll and other fraudulent practices associated with the civil service at the state and local government levels to a final rest.
“While commending labour for their understanding and patience during this difficult period, he emphasised that the government has set up a judicial commission of inquiry, to validate the authentic workforce of the State, with a view to expunging the ghost workers’ syndrome from the payroll system for the good of the state’’, the statement noted.
The governor reportedly called on labour to assist the state government in its aggressive tax drive with a view to improving the internally generated revenue.
Dickson explained that the government embarked on the international cargo airport and other infrastructure development projects to attract investment to shore up the revenue profile of the state.
“With an improved internally generated revenue through aggressive tax drive and the massive infrastructural development of the state such as the cargo airport, Bayelsa will get there”, he reportedly assured the workers.