By Omon-Julius Onabu
In a bid to cushion the effects of the increased prices of petroleum products vis-a-vis hike in electricity tariffs and general inflation in the country, the Delta State Government yesterday announced a reversal of the downward review of salaries of civil servants for six months occasioned by the COVID-19.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Chiedu Ebie, who made the announcement yesterday said that the Senator Ifeanyi Okowa administration had do give a human face to measures to mitigate the negative financial impact of the pandemic due to the effects of the Coronavirus on state revenue sources.
Accordingly, the government has directed the state Accountant-General and Finance Commissioner to restore the salaries of the affected workers on Salary Grade Level 7 to Salary Grade Level 17, which will take effect from September, 2020.
Ebie said, “In view of the recent upward review of pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, has directed the immediate restoration of salaries of the affected categories of workers and appointees.
“The State Government commends the understanding exhibited by the Organised Labour and the affected personnel. As we await the full reflation of the country’s economy, Deltans and other residents are implored to continue to lend support to Government’s efforts at confronting the current economic challenge.”
The SSG reiterated Okowa’s commitment to the well-being of the state workforce and the people of the state in general, noting that the action of the government was prompted by prevailing circumstances, which had disrupted social and economic activities in countries globally.
“You will recall that following the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and the consequent sharp drop in revenues accruing to all tiers of government, the (Delta) State Government, after due consultations with the Organised Labour, carried out a downward review of the salaries of its workforce comprising political appointees and officers on Salary Grade Level 07 and above. The downward review which took effect from July 2020 was intended to last until December, 2020.
“The Honourable Commissioner of Finance and the Accountant-General have already been directed to ensure immediate implementation of this directive.”
Earlier, the Delta State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) disclosed that following a meeting with the Governor Okowa, the government had “agreed that the suspension of the payment of the new minimum wage for levels 7 to 17 be lifted with effect from September 1st, 2020.”
The state NLC chairman, Comrade Goodluck Ofobruku, who made the disclosure in Asaba, shortly after he paid a working visit to the office of the Special Adviser to the governor on SERVICOM and Labour Relations, Comrade Mike Okeme, thanked the workers in the state for their patience and understanding all through the period the salary cut lasted and promised that the union would work for better things for them.
He also commended the governor “for his effective leadership, people-oriented policies and programmes, and particularly for being workers friendly.”
Ofobruku noted that the agreement on salary review earlier was a six months period on the condition that as soon as things improved ,the state government would stop the deduction, adding that the deduction had to stop as a result of the cost of things had seriously gone higher than expected in addition with the hike in fuel and electricity bills just as he stated that workers must not always be the victims of such effect.
Reacting, Okeme, said that the government had promised to stop the salary cut whenever there were improvements in state finances and as such had just decided to stop the deduction, commending the governor for having a listening ear.