By Laleye Dipo
The Niger State Government has made a move to placate organised labour over its decision to slash workers’ salaries and labour’s refusal to support the action.
The state government, in an apparent reaction to one of the demands of workers, has set up a committee to look into the case of 80 workers arbitrarily dismissed.
The committee, according to the Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Idris, who interacted with newsmen in Minna on Friday, will look into why the workers were sacked and how they can be reabsorbed into the service.
The reabsorption of the 80 workers, 30% salary deductions refund and 100% payment of salaries to workers are the three demands organised labour had insisted must be met by government before a showdown could be aborted.
The commissioner however insisted that government has no alternative than to cut cost because of dwindling revenue from all sources.
“We are in a period of crisis. This crisis is not peculiar to Niger State, all over we faced COVID-19 as we are seeing the eclipse of COVID-19 we are entering another crisis, even stronger nation’s have come out to declare the precarious situation we are in.
“The truth is that Nigeria is not left out of this recession, Niger State as a unit is not immune, that is why government is appealing for workers understanding in the payment of percentage salaries in this month of November,” he said.
According to him, the state is spending a lot of money to equip the security forces to fight insurgency, adding that: “We cannot sacrifice the security of the state on the alter of payment of salaries.
“In all honesty, government cannot forgo security and pay salaries alone, we cannot relent in our ongoing onslaught against banditry, this inconvenience for workers is temporary,” he said.
The commissioner, who appealed to workers to understand the precariousness of the situation government has found itself, however confirmed that government received a total of N4.2 billion from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for October as against the over N5 billion it normally got.
He however said workers’ salaries gulps N2.9 billion, pension and gratuities N500 million and the Contributory Pension Scheme, N200 million leaving “next to nothing for other segments, especially security”.
Asked how much the state is generating monthly, Idris claimed he did not have the figure.
He also blamed organised labour for the non-payment of the 30% deducted from workers’ salaries since June, saying government wanted to refund the money instalmentally but labour insisted all workers should be refunded the money at once
The organise labour is yet to come out with its final position on the matter.