Organized labor on Thursday started a strike to compel the Bayelsa State Government to pay outstanding salaries owed to workers in the State as Governor Henry Seriake Dickson threatened to invoke the “no work, no pay" rule.
Labor directed all workers to remain at home following the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum issued to the State government to pay all outstanding salaries and allowances.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a joint congress on Thursday at the NLC Secretariat resolved that they could no longer guarantee industrial harmony in the State.
The TUC said the directive became imperative, as the government had refused to yield to their demands by relieving workers of the economic hardships they were enduring.
“Following an exhaustive deliberation involving the Chairman of the NLC, Mr. John Ndiomu, and the TUC Chairman, Mr. Tari Dounana, we resolved to commence the strike.
“The two labor unions in Bayelsa State have resolved to join the ongoing nationwide strike arising from the hike in the price of fuel and electricity.
“Council-in-session has also resolved that due to non-payment of salaries from January till date, workers are directed to proceed immediately on an indefinite strike taking effect from 19th of May 2016.
“Workers are by this development advised to stay off their places of work and remain at home as long as the strike may last.
“Once the strike commences, only the Joint Councils of NLC and TUC could call it off,” the resolutions read in part.
Some banks that had opened for business hurriedly shut their banking halls as soon as news of the strike filtered into town, while the workers shut down the Bayelsa State Secretariat.
Governor Dickson responded through a radio broadcast berating the workers who have not been paid since January 2016, saying that he was going to impose the “no work, no pay” principle in Bayelsa State.
Mr. Dickson said that the State had no funds to meet the salary obligations and noted that the wage bill of the State was over-bloated and more than N4 billion monthly.
Some civil servants described the governor’s comments as insensitive and callous for a leader.
“What we heard the governor say on the radio was very unfortunate and regrettable. How can someone who was just re-elected abuse everyone in the State in such a derogatory manner?
“If he says he will sack us for asking for our salaries, let him pay us for the months we have worked. If I did not hear him, I would not have believed that a sitting governor would use such a libelous tone to insult everyone in the State.
“The die is cast, let us see who blinks first, but he should know that nothing lasts forever,” an aggrieved civil servant said.
Mr. Dickson equally took a swipe at the mass media and accused journalists of working with kidnappers and payroll fraudsters to sabotage the efforts of his administration.