THE decision of Niger State Government to slash the salaries of workers by 50 per cent is causing ripples in the state as the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state threatens a showdown with government.
The state government, in a meeting held in the office of the Head of Service on Monday, told NLC officials and those of the Trade Union Congress that it could no longer afford to pay 100 per cent salaries to workers with effect from the end of this month (November).
The meeting, which was addressed by the state Accountant General, Abdullahi Saidu, had in attendance of all members of the State Executive Council, as well as majority of Permanent Secretaries.
It was learnt from a source close to the meeting that Saidu explained that the state had been recording a drastic decline in its income from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue.
Saidu had said that another reason for the decision of government was the series of deductions from source which has depleted the income of the state.
It was also learnt that the AG informed the meeting that if the state paid 60 per cent of the salaries to its workers, it would still go into about N1.7bn deficit which is why the government planned to lash the salaries by 50 per cent.
The AG who was said to have pleaded with organised labour to “see with the government” reportedly assured them that the 50 per cent deductions would be refunded immediately the economy of the state improved.
However our correspondent gathered that officials of the state NLC and those of the TUC told the government team that the policy was not acceptable to labour.
They were said to have told the government team that “salary payment is a first line charge” and as such whatever the government got, it should pay 100 per cent salaries and source for funds for other projects and programmes.
It was learnt that Labour on Tuesday summoned an emergency congress where the issue was put before the delegates.
The congress rose from the emergency meeting held at the Labour House, rejecting the decision of government but asked all the affiliate unions to return to their members to hold congresses where the issue should top the agenda and gave the unions till 6pm on Wednesday to submit in the decisions of the unions.
It was learnt that as of 2pm on Wednesday, at least, 28 affiliate unions had returned negative report and also back the NLC in whatever step it felt it could take to make the government bow.
The NLC and the TUC officials are expected to meet on Thursday where a final decision on the next line of action will be taken.
Efforts to get the comments of the state NLC Chairman Comrade Yakubu Garba, was abortive as he could not be reached on his cell phones neither was he in the office.
The state Commissioner for Information, Sani Idris, when contacted, promised to get back but did not do so until the time of filling this report.