Oyo workers, pensioners threaten industrial action

WORKERS and pensioners paid by the Oyo State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters have threatened to embark on industrial action if the ministry continued to delay payment of salaries/pensions until about two or three months after the state had received federal allocation.

The workers/pensioners gathered on the platforms of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), in Ibadan, on Monday, hinged the threat on “negligent approach paid to the payment of salaries and pensions by the ministry.”

President, NULGE, Mr Bayo Titilola-Sodo, speaking on behalf of the three unions, wondered why the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy matters, through the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), held allocations in banks for two or three months before releasing them to pay workers’ salaries and pensions, while the state government paid its workers and pensions immediately it received federal allocation.

Especially, the unions noted that workers/pensioners who drew salaries/pensions from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy matters were yet to receive from the recent Paris club refund recently got by the state.

Titilayo-Sodo stated that primary school teachers were being owed from October 2016 till date while local government staffs were owed between five and nine months salaries depending on the particular local government.

“Right now, while the Oyo state government had paid its workers and pensioners two months salaries and pensions from Paris Club fund and a month allocation, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters is yet to release fund for the payment of local government workers/pensioners serving Primary school teachers and retired primary school teachers.”

“The Ministry is claiming that the addition of state Internally Generated Revenue component which was not forthcoming from the state government was stalling the payment of these workers and pensioners. The question is that if you were to pay N2 billion as salaries and pensions and you already had N1.8 billion, must you hold on to the N1.8 billion indefinitely until you access N200 million IGR before you pay the needy workers and pensioners?”

“From now on, we demand that payment of salaries and pensions of local government workers/pensioners, serving primary school teachers and retired primary school teachers be made on first line charge and in full.”

“That, henceforth, allocations should not be held again in banks for upward of two to three months before salaries and pensions are paid. Workers and pensioners should be paid immediately federal allocation is paid.”

“Local government workers are paid according to the whims and caprices of the authorities of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters resulting in a situation where local governments like Lagelu, Egbeda, Ibadan North West, Ogbomoso South and a host of others are in arrears of up to eight months while the fortunate ones last had a full salary in September 2016.”

“To pay retired Primary school teachers presently, nothing less than N321 million is required per month, but Oyo state JAAC in its wisdom continue to release N219 million monthly for over two years now. The implication of this is that every month, retired primary school teachers are short-paid N100 million thus resulting in accumulation of monthly arrears of pensions,” he said.

Among other prayers, Titilayo-Sodo prayed hat local government pensioners be placed on 6 percent and 15 percent pension increase as applicable in other states of the country.

“A Memorandum of Understanding reached by the state government and the Ministry of Local Government with Nigeria Union of Pensioners in February 2013 that pension should be increased by 6% and 15% has remained unimplemented to local government retirees by the Ministry of Local government in spite of the fact that the state government has implemented this increase to all categories of pensioners in the state. This is indeed a case of two governments in the state,” he said.