Bayelsa Reforms: Dickson backpedals, orders release of withheld salaries of 3,403 ‘excess workers’

Posted by News Express | 19 April 2018 | 1,652 times

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Following resistance by labour leaders and public outcry Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on Wednesday directed that salaries of 3,403 workers affected by the ongoing public service reforms be released to them immediately.

The Bayelsa chapters of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress and affiliated union opposed the suspension of 3,403 workers in the ongoing public service reforms.

The unions had on Monday in a statement signed by John Ndiomu and Tari Dounana, State Chairmen of NLC and TUC urged the Bayelsa Government to reverse its decision to withhold the workers’ salaries.

The labour noted that withholding of staff salaries of workers listed for redeployment was strange and urged the government to carry out the reforms in compliance with Public Service Rules.

“Labour wishes to draw government’s attention to the ongoing public service reforms, it is proper to note that redeployment of staff is a norm but stoppage of salaries is not in line with civil service rules.

“Labour therefore calls on government to review its directive on the stoppage of salaries as it is against the public service rules and pay the affected staff their salaries to forestall breach of industrial peace.

“We also wish to remind government of its pledge that the reforms would not lead to job losses and ask that it abides by it,” the joint NLC/TUC statement reads in part.

Dickson, who gave the directive during a live radio programme broadcast said that salaries of the workers earlier withheld should be paid pending conclusion of the reforms.

The Head of Service of Bayelsa, Rev Thomas Zidafomo directed that salaries of 222 staff of Bayelsa owned media houses and 3,181 non-teaching staff in the State Universal Basis Education Board (SUBEB) be suspended.

Zidafomo in a letter dated April 6, 2018 directed that the withheld salaries of the affected workers listed as ‘excess workers’ be remitted to the Accountant General of Bayelsa.

Dickson explained that the reforms was not intended to sack people en masse but to reorganise the bloated workforce of over 45,000 for greater efficiency and place workers in their professional areas.

He said that he has directed that the reforms be carried out in line with the Public Service rules adding that those who do not fit into the service would be compensated and paid off.

“The reforms we are carrying out is a painstaking process we commenced in 2012 and it is not meant to sack people, we are a sensitive government and we want the public service reorganised.

“There is a lot of rot in the system and we are dealing with them, we are tackling payroll fraud, truancy, ghost workers syndrome and people who are over-aged falsify records to remain in service.

“While there is acute shortage of teachers in our schools, e sometimes have more than 30 non-academic staff in a primary school where there are no teachers.

“What we are doing is to take a look at our personnel needs and redeploy people from areas of surplus to areas of need, not to sack, those that require training would be trained and sent to schools to teach.

“Those who would be affected will be eased out of service with their benefits and given al the support to start off life in the private sector, I have been briefed by the reforms committee and I want them to conclude it swiftly,” Dickson said

The governor said that there was no going back in the reforms adding that the government would pursue it to a logical conclusion adding that he reforms would free resources from recurrent and channelled to capital expenditures

He maintained that the reforms are necessary to “rid the public service of an excess baggage and leave a leaner, smarter and productive workforce for the next administration

A committee set up by Dickson ad headed by Deputy Governor Chief John Jonah on staffing and Funding of MDAs had compiled the list of surplus staff which is being released in batches

Source: News Express

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