By Arodiegwu Eziukwu
Bayelsa State Government has commenced plans to downsize its workforce with the sack of about 222 staffers from its radio station and newspaper.
About 86 staff of New Waves Newspaper and 136 others from Radio Bayelsa were affected in the exercise.
The Bayelsa Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Wednesday condemned the sack. A statement from the NUJ urged the state government to review its decision.
The sack was sequel to a circular from the office of the Head of Service to heads of media parastatals to redeploy “excess staff”.
The statement signed by the Bayelsa NUJ Chairman, John Angese and Secretary, Stanley Imgbi noted that the unions and labour leaders in the state and affected establishments were not privy to the exercise
The NUJ argued that the parameter for determining the desired staff strength was not specified and shrouded in secrecy adding that the best hands have been affected in the exercise that jettisoned competence.
According to the statement, the output of the media houses would nosedive as professionalism and competence were not factored in while compiling the list.
The union maintained that the directive to stop salaries of the affected workers from the April 2018 was in breach of civil service rules and labour laws.
It said that seizure of the salaries of the affected staff and holding it in the state treasury clearly shows that the exercise is not redeployment as presented by government.
The union leaders urged the government to review the decision due to the economic implication on the affected workers as most of them are bread winners of their families.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa government said the ongoing public service reforms in the state was to eliminate endemic employment racketeering and pay roll fraud in its public sector.
Deputy Governor, John Jonah, assured the workers that they would not be thrown into the labour market adding that the exercise would only affect those involved in “employment fraud, redundancy and truancy”.
Bayelsa government had on November 7, 2017 announced that it withheld the October, 2017 salaries of about 4,202 civil servants suspected to be involved in irregularities.