Local Government Council Workers in Bayelsa have resolved to embark on a three day warning strike over unpaid salaries.
Rising from a meeting in Yenagoa, the State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) said the action is necessary due to the hardship experienced by the council's staff.
The State branch of the Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria has equally vowed to join their NULGE counterparts in the strike scheduled to commence on Wednesday over the four months salary arrears owed them.
Bayelsa chapter Secretary of NULGE, Mr Tonye Jaja, explained that several efforts to address the situation with the Local Government Council Chairmen had proved abortive.
Jaja said the non-resolution of the outstanding salaries necessitated the decision by the Union to call on its members to embark on the three day warning strike.
“We have made several attempts to get the matter resolved, but it is not working.
“You can imagine what the families of these staff being owed are going through.
“They find it difficult to feed their children. The Politicians are being paid, the Councilors are being paid. The Chairmen have collected their own security votes of N5 million. ALGON have also collected their deductions but they find it difficult to pay the workers,” Jaja lamented.
The workforce in the eight Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Bayelsa says that the situation is unacceptable given the derivation revenue profile of the State.
According to them the State Government which diverts funds meant for the LGAs in connivance with Local Government Chairmen have failed to pay salaries ranging from two to four months.
“What we are going through in the hands of the government is very lamentable, Bayelsa receives the highest revenue allocation as an oil bearing State but the State government still tampers with council funds.
“That was why they prevailed on the past State Assembly to throw out the Local Government Autonomy and voted against it during the last attempt at constitutional amendment.”
“In these harsh economic times, some of us have not been paid for four months and yet the governor and council chairmen as well as the councilors and their political appointees have all been paid except us,” one of the workers who wished to be anonymous said.
When contacted, the State chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria and Chairman of Yenagoa Local Government Council, Mr. Chubby Ben Walson said he was in a meeting and pledged to return the call..
Governor Seriake Dickson has set up a committee headed by the Chief of Staff, Talford Ongolo, to meet with the Unions and Council Chairmen in order to seek solutions.