No fewer than 2,000 local government workers in Imo State on Monday staged a protest against their sack by the state government at the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, secretariat in Owerri.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the affected workers from the 27 local government councils of the state, wore black attires and carried placards with various inscriptions.
NAN gathered that the state Local Government Service Commission had issued sack letters to the council staff, claiming that they were ghost workers.
Some of the sacked workers later marched to the commission accompanied by the Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Alloy Iwuanyanwu.
Ngozichukwu Chikwendu, the Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, in Oru East, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved workers, said that they received their sack letters on January 15, 2017.
He said since the letters were handed to them, they had been waiting for the state NULGE Chairman, Ucheghara Ndubuisi, and his Executive Council to act, to no avail.
Mr. Chikwendu said that they decided to take the protest to the NLC, their mother union, to address the situation.
“We have been abandoned by state exco of NULGE and government has refused to pay us since they gave us letters tagging us `ghost workers’’’.
He said that their demonstration became necessary to show that tagging them “ghost workers” was a misnomer.
Responding, the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Chilakpu, commended the affected workers for taking their destiny in their own hands.
“It is very painful that the state government branded you people `ghost workers’’’.
Mr. Chilakpu expressed regret that the state government decided to label some council workers “ghost” before the inauguration of a committee the governor planned to set up to investigate claim of ghost workers in Imo.
He said that the leadership of the organised labour had met with the governor over the issue and assured them that he had agreed to look into the matter.
He expressed surprise that before the committee could begin work, the Local Government Service Commission had begun to issue sack letters.
Mr. Chilakpu noted that government’s action was alien to public service rules, insisting that there were laid down rules on how workers could be sacked.
“My advice is that you go about your normal duties and as organised labour, we will continue to work for your welfare and this case is not different,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Iwuanyanwu said that the purported sack was an “act of victimisation”.
“Information available to us showed that the sacked workers were among the people who were paid double salaries from January to December 2016 but in their sincerity, they returned these cheques because they had been paid before.
“It was those cheques they returned that the handlers of the verification took back to the ministry and tagged them ghost workers.”
Mr. Iwuanyanwu promised the sacked workers that labour was pursuing the matter and would not allow the injustice to stand.