THE decision by the Federal Government to recall the Paris Club refunds released to States to pay-off backlog of civil servants salaries is generating tension in Bayelsa State as some workers are threatening to take to the street to protest what they described as ‘industrial injustice’.
Some workers that spoke to TribuneOnline in Yenagoa, said the news has further worsened their economic condition, as some of them have started going cap-in-hand begging and borrowing to feed their family.
Saiya Eyinimi, a Secondary School Teacher, said coupled with the fact that the flood has rendered some residents in the State homeless, the condition workers find themselves is agonizing and unbearable.
“If something is not done fast about the situation, the rate of robbery may escalate. The condition may take us back to the era people were caught stealing pot of soup. And in many cases, it may be innocent and hardworking civil servants like us would be victims of armed robbers.” He added.
Another civil servant who craved anonymity told TribuneOnline that the longer States and the Federal government continue to argue about how the money should be spent, workers may soon get fed up and take to the streets protest and lockdown government offices to demand their right to their wages.
Also speaking, the former Chairman of Academic Staff Union Of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), Oyinemi Ebredeni said “if the decision of the federal government to recall the fund is genuine, then they have my full support.
“I heard the reason why the recalled the fund is intended to compel benefiting states to make full payment of backlog of salaries being owed workers. If that is true then they have my full support but where I would have a problem is when they delay the payment of workers.
“Many workers are indebted to the point that even if that backlog is paid, they would not be able to have anything left for themselves after offsetting their debts. So anything outside, these reasons, workers would not fold their arms and watch because the next option would be to down our tools.”
When contacted, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade John Ndiomu called on workers to be calm and pleaded with the federal government to ensure that the funds are not delayed.
“We were surprised to hear that the federal government recalled the Paris Club refund released to Bayelsa State. Before the money was recalled, we were excited that the state government had concluded arrangement to pay two out of the three months backlog of salaries to workers.
“While we appreciate the fact that the federal government is trying to use the recall to compel the state to settle salary backlogs, we also wish to beg them to consider the plight of the worker that is faced with though economic hardship.
“Although this decision has worsened the economic condition of workers in the State as a union, we call on our teaming workers to exercise some patients as the State government is on top of the issue.”