Going by an agreement entered between Akwa Ibom government and labour in December last year, the workers and pensioners in the state will smile soon, an agreement obtained by Straightnews has shown.
But in a telephone interview with Straightnews on Saturday, Effiong Essien, the Head of Civil Service said ”Government has started and is implementing the agreement.’’
Already, Governor Udom Emmanuel has inaugurated Akwa Savings and Loans headed by Mr. Peter Udoh as Chairman, with Mr. Ime Okon, as Managing Director and four other members, an aspect of the agreement reached by the government and labour.
At the wake of proposed strike by labour in the state last year, the state government called a truce and set up a committee to look into labour’s demands with a view to resolving them.
At last, the committee composed of six persons on government side and six on labour side reached and put their signatures on an agreement sent it to the Governor for approval and implementation.
Both parties met at Government House, Uyo and signed the agreement on December 24, 2020.
On government side were Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-eyen, Chief of Staff to the Governor; Elder Effiong E. Essien, Head of Civil Service; Sunny Ibuot, Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning; Frank Archibong, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Monday Eyo, Chairman of Local Government Service Commission and Ekaete I. Ekanem, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Head of Civil Service, Uyo.
On labour side were Comrade Sunny James, Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress; Iboro Ibara, Vice Chairperson/Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress; Effiong Nya, NLC treasurer; Comrade Tina Essien, Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council; Comrade Anestina Iweh, NULGE President; Comrade Dominic Abang, TUC Chairman.
A copy made available to Straightnews, showed that the committee observed that gratuities of state workers have been paid up to March 2016, leaving an outstanding of April 2016 to December 2020.
“Government agrees to immediately pay April 2016 arrears of gratuity to state workers while effort will made to clear the outstanding on a continuous basis,’’ the document states.
The committee observed that the outstanding for live pensioners of the Local Government Service from 2012 to 2020 and for the deceased staffers from 2000 to 2020 was not paid.
”Government agrees to start immediate payment of gratuities to live pensioners of 2012 while the outstanding will be defrayed on a continuous basis.
”Equally, government agrees to pay 2000-2005 gratuities to next-of-kin of deceased pensioners of the Local Government system.’’
The committee observed that the outstanding gratuities for live pensioners of primary school teachers from 1976 to 2020 and that of the deceased staffers from 1988-2020 were not paid.
”Government agrees to start payment of gratuities to both live pensioners and next-of-kin to deceased before the end of 2020.’’
Moreover, the committee noted the non-payment of December 2019 arrears of minimum wage to all Akwa Ibom workers and the January 2020 Minimum Wage arrears already paid to other civil servants to primary school teachers.
”The Akwa Ibom Government agrees to pay: One month outstanding arrears for December 2019 for all civil servants in January 2021 and the January minimum Wage arrears for primary school teachers in December 2020.’’
The committee noted that only 2015 and 2016 Leave Grant of primary school teachers have been paid, while the outstanding of 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are outstanding.
”Government agrees to pay 2013 Leave Grant of primary school teachers before the end of 2020 while the outstanding of 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be defrayed on continuous basis from January 2021.’’
The committee discovered that the government is yet to carry out a full automation of the Public/Civil Service system which could allow the Ministries, Departments, Agencies especially those involved in salary, pension and gratuities to be linked up together.
”However, because of the gaps the Accountant-General found it necessary to hire a consultant to deploy software within the perimeters of his office to help in the electronic payment of salaries.
”Government agrees to hire a more sophisticated consultant who will deploy more robust software to cover the entire Civil Service system including Establishment, Head of Service office, among others.
”It further agreed that each consultant should handle both salaries and pensions for both living and deceased for the state civil service, Local Government and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).’’
The committee agreed to intervene for the recall/reinstatement of four sacked labour leaders of Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company.
It also approved a new board and management for Akwa Savings and Loans Limited while action will be expedited on Peacock Paints Limited.
The committee agreed that Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) should immediately implement the approval of the State Executive Council by paying outstanding balance of salaries owed to staffers of the university from January 2020 to date except for March 2020.
The government agreed to commence the immediate implementation of promotion for civil servants and payment of arrears to beneficiaries.
Comrade Sunny James, the Chairperson of Nigeria Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom Council, who spoke with Straightnews on Friday, urged government to expedite action in implementing the agreement.
According to him, “We want the government to implement all the issues we talked and agreed with the committee to enhance harmonious working relationship between the government and the labour.’’