Some civil servants whose names were removed from the payroll of the Cross River State Government on Monday in Calabar picketed the state secretariat complex, demanding reinstatement.
The protesters carried placards with various inscription such as: Ayade pay us our salaries; No Trade Union in Cross River; and We will protest until we are reinstated.
It would be recalled that the state government in August 2019 removed the names of no fewer than 2,500 civil servants from its payroll.
One of the protesting civil servants, James Obeten, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the situation had caused untold hardships in his families.
Obeten said: “We were duly employed in 2015, and were given employment letters.
“It is very shocking that the government stopped our salaries since August 2019.
“Without any reason, our names were dropped from the payroll.
“They claimed that we were employed through the backdoor.”
He said the affected workers had undergone several screenings to ascertain the legality of their employments, saying: “Our names have not been reinstated till today.”
Obeten urged the state government to consider the plight of the affected workers whose families had been subjected to hunger and difficulty since 2019.
“Many of us are now homeless, our children are already out of school, life is getting worse by the day,” he said.
Also speaking to NAN, another protester, Eno Akan, accused the Nigeria Labour Congress of abandoning them in the struggle.
Akan expressed the resolve of the affected workers to remain resolute in the struggle until their salaries were paid.
When contacted, Monday Ogbodum, Cross River State Chairman, Trade Union Congress, said the matter had been discussed with the state government and it would soon be resolved.
Ogbodum said: “We have been discussing with the government through the office of the Head of Service.
“Those who were genuinely employed in 2015 will soon be reinstated.
“We did not abandon the struggle.
“We are doing our best to resolve the matter.
“There are plans to carry out screening to know those who were genuinely employed.”
Reacting to the protest, Christian Ita, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Media and Publicity, said that plans were already concluded to conduct a screening exercise in order to determine people who were genuinely employed.
Ita said: “I think that this protest is unnecessary.
“After the screening, those who were erroneously removed from the payroll will be reinstated.
“The government reached an agreement in March with the organised labour to resolve this abnormalities.
“This process was delayed by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.”
Ita urged the protesters to remain calm as the state government was working with the organised labour to begin the process of reinstating them.