By Laleye Dipo
With the collapse of negotiation between officials of the Niger State Government and those of the organised labour over the plan by the state to reduce workers’ salary, Labour has declared a total strike in the state.
The strike, according to the organised labour in the state, is expected to take place with effect from 12 midnight of Tuesday December 1 .
The workers’ letter to the state government titled “Resumption of Suspended Indefinite Strike Action” dated November 27 sent to Governor Abubakar Bello through the State Head of Service read in part:“ On the strength of the forgoing we write on behalf of the State Executive Council (SEC) of Niger State Organised Labour to convey to your esteemed office the harmonised position of the affiliate unions as follows:
“The Niger state government should refund the slashed June 2020 salaries to desirable civil servants latest Tuesday December 1, 2020
“That the discussions on payment of outstanding October 2020 salaries of local government workers must be conclusive on or before Tuesday December 1, 2020
“That the proposal by Niger state government to pay November 2020 salaries of LGAs and state workers on a percentage basis is unacceptable and vehemently rejected.
“That failure of government to address issues 1,2,3, above the organised labour will be left with no other option than to resume the earlier suspended indefinite strike action effective 12 midnight of Tuesday December 1.”
When contacted the Commissioner for Information Alhaji Mohammed Sani Idris confirmed that the government has received the letter by organised labour declaring strike action.
Idris told THISDAY that despite the action of the workers “negotiations and discussions still continue”.
The state government had confirmed its decision to slash the salaries of all workers including that of all political appointees, the governor and his deputy, saying its action is unavoidable.
In a statement Thursday, the Commissioner for Information said: “The decision is regrettable and painful, the debacle is apparently unavoidable and will very hopefully be short-lived.”
Idris blamed the action on shortfalls in revenue accruals to the state from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), as well as IGR due to the recession the country just started edging into.
He pointed out that: “Unfortunately, the shortfall worsened further this month again, giving a direct drop of over N1 billion in state’s cash accrual from the federation account since September.
“The purse of the government has been further strained by the funding of the fight against banditry and other insecurity in the state.
“Combating insecurity has equally been daunting and has taken its toll on the resources of the state, as the personnel on the front line of opposition to the insurgents have to be kitted well enough for the task.
“Can the state government avoid the task of carrying out her primary responsibility of guaranteeing the safety/security of the residents at whatever cost?
“The move to reduce salaries of all categories of workers, given this preceding explanation, is compelled by existential developments, and whatever has been deducted from workers shall be returned to them once the situation improves, as has been experienced by local government workers in the state.
“It is our sincerest hope that the situation would improve soonest so the government would reimburse the workers for the deducted percentage.
“Government is also deeply pained by the development and regrets the difficulties it may cause,” Idris said, adding that the government has put machinery in place to increase its IGR.