SIR: By the end of this month (July), the short-changing of Delta State workers by the government of Ifeanyi Okowa via the suspension of the new minimum wage would have begun.
No thanks to the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Delta State chapter who have already thrown their weight behind the illegality to be perpetrated against the state workers by the Ifeanyi Okowa-led government.
Although, this is not the first time Delta State government would be arm twisting workers in collaboration with the leadership of the NLC, but it is most unfortunate that the planned suspension of the new minimum wage for the next six months is an act of impunity taken too far.
Justifying the planned review of the salary of Delta State workers, the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, while speaking on Delta Broadcasting Service “Golden Ride” programme, had attributed the move to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “The private sector had long modified its salary structure to reflect the economic realities posed by the pandemic and workers in the public sector are not immune to similar modifications. Many have lost their jobs in the private sector since the outbreak of the virus but the state government does not want to look in that direction.”
While one may try to give meaning to the unreasonable assertion of the Delta State Commissioner for Information, who ordinarily is trying to justify the misdeed of his paymaster, the most frightening and regrettable is the treacherous position already adopted by the leadership of the Delta State NLC, led by Goodluck Oforbruku.
Oforbruku, had in another Delta Broadcasting Service programme, said: “ When we look at the revenue accrued to the state government, both from the federal allocation and the internally generated revenue, the continuous payment of salaries are no longer sustainable.”
Taking the issue one at a time, one question that must be posed to the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu is, is Delta State workers they the same as private-sector workers? Is there any state in the whole federation that has suspended its workers minimum wage due to the Coronavirus pandemic?
If Delta State is the ‘first’ to pay the new minimum wage as claimed by Charles Aniagwu, is it then an achievement that the state is also to be the first to suspend the payment of the new minimum wage it has already started? What is the allocation that accrues to Delta State from the federation account when compared to states like Anambra, Osun, Kogi and other states in the whole federation?
If these poor states can sustain their economic situation posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, can Charles Aniagwu tell the world what has made Delta the poorest state.
As for the leadership of the NLC in Delta State, it is most regrettable that they have never been on the side of the workers. That, therefore, is the reason why Delta State government has refused to pay workers their promotion areas since 2018, besides the fact that implementation of new cadre salary when newly promoted, sometimes last as much as four to six months.
What has been the reaction of NLC Delta State in the face of this injustice? When several thousands of Delta State workers’ names were removed from the payroll did the Delta State led by Oforbruku bat an eyelid?
When the Delta State government went as far as slashing people’s service year using primary six certificates as a benchmark, what did NLC in Delta State do?
No matter the explanation adduced by Aniagwu and Oforbruku, the planned suspension of Delta State workers minimum wage can never be justified; just as it must be pointed out that workers in Delta are not in league with Oforbruku and his NLC executives’ decision to back the Delta State government.
Ifeonu Okolo writes from Asaba, Delta State.
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