The Bayelsa State chapters of Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees have concluded plans to commence indefinite strike from July 24.
The resolution was contained in a six-point communiqué issued at the end of the State Executive Council meeting of the two unions held on Thursday in Yenagoa.
The unions directed all local government workers to close the secretariats of all the councils and health facilities across the LGAs on Monday in compliance with the resolution.
The communiqué said that the strike would continue indefinitely until the issue of regular payment of salaries and settlement of arrears were resolved by the state government.
The unions said that workers in some LGCs in the state were owed eight months’ salary, while others were owed 15 months’ salary, a situation they contended was no longer tolerable.
The workers’ unions also faulted the state government for shifting the burden of payment of salaries of primary school teachers’ to the LGCs.
They declared that the development was depleting the resources of the councils, hence their inability to pay the salaries of their workers.
They called on the government to take over the responsibility of payment of salaries of primary school teachers.
They also demanded that the government should hand over infrastructural projects to the councils paid with counterpart funds from the Federal Government and donor agencies.
They criticised the imposition of 100 per cent salary obligations of primary school teachers on the councils.
The unions declared that the stance of the government was contrary to the long-standing policy of successive administrations in the state and the 4th schedule of the 1999 constitution.
The unions noted that previous administrations in the state paid 80 per cent of the wage bills primary school teachers to reduce the burden on LGCs and enable them meet salary obligations of their staff.
They criticized the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson for not “consulting widely” and for shifting the burden of payment of teachers’ salaries to the councils.
They stated: “The Joint councils in session re-echoed the appeals by the NUT, the NLC and other critical stakeholders that the state government should take lion share in the payment of primary school staff.
“We hereby call on Governor Seriake Dickson to graciously take over 100 per cent payment of primary school teachers in order to allow the councils survive and pay salaries of their staff regularly.
“We further wish to remind Governor Dickson of the 1999 Constitution as amended (2011) 4th schedule, Section 7 (2) functions of a LGAs which is participatory in the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education.
“That alternate salary payment between staff of the councils and staff of primary schools, a month after another, is still half salary in disguise.
“We roundly condemn this trend, because council workers are citizens of this state and the governor has since made pronouncement to prohibit half payment of salary in the state.”
The unions also urged the government to release, without delay, the balance of the first tranche of the Paris/ London club refunds totalling N600 million due to the LGCs.
They warned the government not to forcefully and unlawfully reduce the workforce of local government under any guise.
They said: “Doing so will result in mass protest of the over 14,000 council workers on the streets of Yenagoa.
“Council workers in Bayelsa, from 2015 to date have suffered untold economic and social hardships due to irregular payment of their salaries, ranging from eight and a half months to 15 months as at June 2017.”