The Aba chapter of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) has flayed the Abia government for constituting a committee over the lingering issue of unpaid arrears of workers’ salaries and pensions.
The Chairman of the group, Dr Charles Chinekezi, told the Nigeria News Agency in Aba that the government’s action was unacceptable to the organisation.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu on Monday inaugurated a committee of government officials and representatives of the organised labour in the state to articulate and recommend modalities for the payment of outstanding arrears of salaries and pensions.
But Chinekezi said that the action was deceptive and an attempt to buy time.
He said: “It’s just a ploy to buy time and it’s easy to understand. Government should address the issue of workers’ salaries directly and not indirectly.
“It does not make sense that persons are in the employ of the government and when it is time for government to pay salaries, it will begin to set up a committee.
“And the committee will end up not coming out with a lasting solution to the problem of providing the salary and the stalemate will continue. That is completely unacceptable.”
Chinekezi said the state had revenue sources to raise money to pay workers or alternatively enter into a negotiation on payment of salary arrears.
Meanwhile, the state Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Mr Uchenna Obigwe, said that organised labour acceded to government’s plan in order to exhaust all peaceful avenues before embarking on strike.
Obigwe denied being bought over, saying that the committee had 14 days to do its job.
He said that if the government failed to act on the agreement that would emanate from the committee, “then labour will act.”
Also, the Abia Commissioner for Information, John Kalu, said that government did not set up the committee to pay salaries but to “review the position of government and labour”.
He said there was a “mis-communication” during the inauguration of the committee, adding that “the misinformation needs to be corrected.”
He said that the committee was set up to “look at grey areas”, particularly because labour claimed that Abia government had received the last tranche of the Paris Club refund.