… Demands immediate payment of 8 months salary arrears owed workers
The President, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, has warned the Government of Edo State of imminent crisis across all local councils in the state, if it fails to stop its undue interference in the election of its state branch.
Besides, the NULGE President called on the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, to immediately pay the salary arrears owed the local government workers, ranging between two and eight months in seven local councils.
Warning of the imminent crisis, Comd. Khaleel said the national leadership of the union had discovered that the Edo State Government anointed a candidate for the state branch election, and are trying to force some local government workers to do their bidding.
According to him, this is not acceptable and would not be allowed, insisting that the union would mobilise all local government workers across the state to protest against the state government if this continues.
He regretted that the election, earlier scheduled to hold on April 2, has been suspended and would now hold on April 29, due to some internal problems.
Comd. Khaleel said: “We observed that Edo State Government anointed a candidate in our own election. In view of that the government is trying to coerce some local government workers to do their bidding. This led to a situation whereby the state local government service commission is now witch-hunting, harassing and intimidating some workers by way of punitive posting, demotion and threat to move some of their services to the state civil service.
“We, therefore want to make it clear that NULGE as a responsible and responsive Union condemn this act and advise the government to desist from it. There is a difference between partisan politics and trade union politics.”
Comrade Khaleel stated that if the witch-hunting, harassment, intimidation of their members as well as the interference persist, it may lead to the breakdown of the existing industrial peace in the state.
While demanding for immediate payment of salary arrears owed some local government workers, he advised the state government to face the issue of how the salaries would be paid rather than interfering in their election, which remains the internal affairs of the union.
He explained that all workers in seven local governments of the state were still owed salaries arrears by the state government, which include: Oredo Local Government and Esan with two months; Etsako West, three months; Uhumwode, Esan West, and Egor four months; and Orhionmwon eight months.
The NULGE President also warned all its members that already affiliated with the state government on this issue because of their ambition, saying that the union would not hesitate to invoke relevant provisions of its constitution “against these anti-union activities”.
He assured all the union members that all hands are on deck for the smooth conduct of the election.
The Edo State Branch of NULGE had also written to the Acting Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu, intimating him about the interference in their union’s election and persistent intimidation of its members.
In the letter titled: “Intimidation of our members”, and signed by the NULGE Acting State Secretary, Comd. Ikiba Ronami, the union said it has observed that “since the lifting of ban in our union politics and the sale of electoral forms to our members, there is a spate of unwholesome political interference in our union affairs”.
The state NULGE called for caution, saying that the government’s action was a sharp deviation from the norm.
The union told the Deputy governor, “our union is not a political party where unwritten rules applies and sacred norms are thrown to the wind. The membership of the union is fully defined in our constitution and any interference in our affairs by non members will be viewed as a threat to industrial harmony.”
It added: “The union wish to further state that we will not hesitate to mobilize our members across the state to resist, protest and possibly strike (withhold our services), if these acts of coercion, intimidation, politically motivated transfer, threat of demotion and unwholesome interference in our union affairs are not restrained.”
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