LABOUR

Organised Labour berates Abia Govt.’s Failure to pay Gratuities for 15 years

Labour

The organised labour in Abia state has berated the state government’s failure to pay gratuities to its retirees for the past 15 years.

The groups, comprising the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), decried the development during the Workers’ Day celebration in Umuahia.

In their separate comments, the chairmen of the two bodies also expressed worry over state government’s inability to offset pension arrears.

They said that the arrears ranged from 15 months to two years.

They further decried the non-payment of arrears of workers’ salaries, ranging from two to nine months, including those of primary and secondary school teachers.

Other categories of workers included health workers, Abia State Polytechnic and local government councils.

Chief Uchenna Obigwe, the state’s NLC Chairman, attributed the non-payment of gratuities to the absence of government guidelines and clear-cut schedule for the payment.

Mr. Obigwe alleged that gratuities were only paid to retirees that had close relationship with government, while those without connection were left to languish in penury many decades after their retirement.

He appealed to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, to set aside N150 million monthly, “or any reasonable amount convenient to the government,” to address the issue.

He also advised the governor to set up a committee that would handle the payment in order to avoid discrepancies and ensure that those who retired earlier were given priority.

Speaking in a similar vein, TUC Chairman, Chief Christopher Okpara, recommended the setting up of a special fund monthly for the payment of gratuities in the state.

The two labour leaders wondered why the 2014 and 2015 promotion arrears were yet to be paid, and appealed to the governor to issue a directive for the payment without further delay.

They regretted that government was yet to release the results of the 2016 promotion examination, while the 2017 promotion examination was yet to be conducted.

They spoke on the ongoing negotiation for a new minimum wage of N66,500, between the Federal Government and organised labour.

They expressed the hope that the negotiation would be concluded before September and urged workers to be patient.

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