The commencement of implementing the Bayelsa State public service reforms by the state government seems imminent to generate industrial dispute between the government and the organised labour union in the state.
The government has insisted that the reforms are necessary to “rid the public service of an excess workforce and in the process deliver a leaner, smarter and productive workforce that is better equipped to serve the state.”
The Bayelsa State government commenced the implementation of the reforms last Tuesday with the announcement of the ‘redeployment’ of no fewer than 222 workers comprising 136 from Radio Bayelsa and 86 from the New Waves newspaper.
A written directive from the office of the Head of Service(HOS), Thomas Zidafamo, to the management of the broadcasting and newspaper corporations, asked them to deposit the monthly salaries of the affected staff into a designated account in the office of the Accountant-General, commencing with the April 2018 salary.
The written directive by the HOS cited “excess staffing” as a reason for the ‘redeployment’, but it did not indicate which MDAs the affected 222 staff were being redeployed to.
It is gathered that the development has created anxiety among civil servants over the fear of job losses in spite of the fact that the directive advised the affected workers to present themselves to a staff screening committee “to verify their areas of professional competence for the deployment exercise”.
Governor Seriake Dickson is scheduled to receive the report of the state Public Service Reforms Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (Rtd), on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting between the governor and leaders of the organised labour on Wednesday.
Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, explained in a statement at the weekend that the meeting “will be used to discuss more on the reforms and some of the steps taken by the government as it begins the holistic implementation of the reforms.”
However, ahead of the proposed meeting, the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the action of the government, describing the ‘redeployment’ of the affected 222 workers as “sack in disguise”.
The NUJ in a statement jointly signed by its chairman, John Angese and Stanley Imgbi, the secretary argued that the parameters for determining excess workers were shrouded in secrecy and urged the government to review its decision.
Also, the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state has expressed worry over the suspension of the affected workers’ salaries.