Barely twenty four hours after a high profile civic reception organized by staff of the six local government councils chapter of NULGE in Okigwe zone in honour of their son who is also the State Chairman of NULGE, Comrade Ambrose Onuoha and the National President Alhaji Ibrahim Khaleel, the entire work force of the unified local government system in the 27 local government councils of Imo State, yesterday embarked on a three day-sit-at-home strike to press home the demand for their outstanding annual leave allowance arrears and staff promotion salary arrears.
Investigation at the Owerri Municipal Council disclosed that the State Union had done all it could to diplomatically to avert this impasse but that some authorities seem to be the stumbling block hence the present action which may be only a warning strike.
For two days the gates of most of the councils visited were under lock and key except at the municipal council which houses others State government outfit where people were scrutinized before they passed the gate though not for staff of the council whose offices were locked.
The investigation revealed that since 2011 when a new Auditor General was appointed at the state Audit department for local governments, things have not been smooth as leave allowances have been irregular. For instance, while the leave allowance for 2012 have been fully paid, their own allowances. some staff in some local councils who enjoyed their annual leave in 2011 are yet to be paid their own allowances.
It was said that in 2013 following directives from the high office at Owerri, Staff Leave Allowances were alleged to be computed with the monthly wages hence workers do not know the time of their annual leave and the amount accruable to them, especially the low income cadre who may be shortage changed by this process.
It was alleged also that following the staff verification exercises of 2011 and 2012, some staff who were declared ghosts by the overzealous ministry staff who were engaged on that assignment and were latter cleared at the local government service commission still have their suspended, June 2012 salaries yet to be paid.
However the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the non- payment of promotion arrears to some categories of staff who were promoted since 2013, but whose promotions were due in 2011. It was stated that while some workers in the lower cadre have started to enjoy their promotion arrears for nearly one year now, those on grade levels 13 and above have nothing to show for their promotion and government perhaps have found it hard to pay the arrears which may be running into several millions of Naira to pay for two months alone.
However, at the time of filing this report, our informant disclosed that the strike had been called off on the grounds that the state government during an ad.hoc. negotiations with labour had agreed to pay some of the arrears while further dialogue will continue, thereafter.
Courtesy: Community Watchdog Newspaper