By Laleye Dipo
Local government workers and primary school teachers have forfeited 20 per cent of their March 2020 salaries to their various local government councils for the purchase of materials to be shared as palliatives to the rural dwellers.
The forfeiture agreement was reportedly reached at a tripartite meeting between the 25 local government council chairmen, officials of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), those of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Medical and Allied Workers Union (MAWU).
A reliable source close to the meeting informed THISDAY that the agreement came in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to provide resources to the local government council chairmen to acquire palliatives for people in the rural communities.
It was learnt that the shortfall in the total amount accrue able to the councils also necessitated the forfeiture of part of the workers’ salaries.
It was learnt that the amount released to the 25 councils by Abuja for March 2020 was N3.6 billion whereas the total salary bills was N3.4 billion.
After it was agreed at the meeting that all union dues, 5 per cent emirate fund deduction, security votes and monthly overhead for the council chairmen should be deducted, what is left is less than N3 billion.
It was at this stage, it was gathered, that the meeting agreed that only 80 per cent of salaries should be paid to workers with part of the agreement also being to first pay the 20 per cent before any deduction during the April disbursement.
However, a section of the labour unions in the local governments has claimed it was not part of the agreement and has asked the Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs to refund the 20 per cent deducted to its members.
The state branch of the NUT, in a petition to the ministry, a copy of which was sent to the office of the state Head of Service, said the deduction has pauperised teachers and made them the list paid in the state.
The petition jointly signed by the Principal Administrative Secretary Labaran Garba and the state Chairman Ibrahim Umar also took exception to the template used to pay teachers which it said violated the principle of the agreement government and labour signed.
The Medical and Health Workers Union, in a similar petition signed by the state secretary Kabiru Yakubu, made similar claim.
But the state ALGON Chairman Mohammed Ibrahim dismissed the claims of his colleagues, saying the 20 per cent deduction in staff salary was a unanimous decision to allow local government chairmen provide palliatives to people in the rural areas.
“We all realised that the state government does not have the resources to provide palliatives for the whole state, so we said we should support the council chairmen,” the ALGON chairman said.
It was not possible to get clarification from the Commissioner for Local Government, Alhaji Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, as he was said to be in self-isolation.