18 December 2012

Nigeria: Ministry's Workers Protest Poor Welfare, Non-Payment of Salary

Some workers of the Ministry of Science and Technology on Tuesday in Abuja protested against poor welfare and non-payment of salaries to the newly employed junior workers.

Making their demand, Mr Shehu Yahaya, the chapter's Chairman of the Nigerian Civil Service Union, said that the way the management handled staff welfare was not encouraging.

Yahaya said that one of the grievances of the workers was that the ministry failed to carry the workers along while taking decisions about their welfare.

"We are not saying the welfare must be sharing of money all the time, but there are many ways to tackle the welfare issues.

"We have been agitating that whenever the issue of welfare will be discussed, we should be carried along, but such thing is not happening here.

"The ministry must carry us along when deciding on our welfare," Yahaya said.

The union also protested against the non-payment of the junior workers numbering about 105 recently recruited and trained by the ministry.

One of the junior staff members in technical department, who pleaded anonymity, told newsmen that the ministry had stopped paying his salary since January.

"I wrote an application letter and the ministry offered me appointment.

"I was paid for six months last year, but when the ministry employed another batch of junior workers, the payment stopped from January.

"The excuse was that no waiver was given for the appointment. I don't know anything about waiver, my own is that I sought for job and I was given appointment letter.

The officer also complained that on Oct. 10, the Human Resources Department introduced a verification exercise, where the new employees' original appointment letters were collected from them.

"We were pleading that they should return our appointment letters, but they refused and we heard that the waiver they were talking about is already out for 120 people," he added.

Some of the workers complained that they had been living on borrowing while two of their colleagues had died due to the lack of fund to take care of themselves.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Ewa, who addressed the protesters, linked the poor welfare to low budgetary allocation to the ministry.

"When you look at the budget frame you discover that the ministry has a limit in its operation and because of that you will bear with us as we drive the system," Ewa said.

He promised that whatever was given to the ministry would be released to run the ministry.

Also speaking, Mrs Rabi Jimeta, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said the workers were aware that the junior ones were employed without waiver.

Jimeta said the ministry had taken necessary steps to correct the wrongs and assist the people involved.

"My clear directive on that is that anybody that had been previously employed with the coming of this waiver should be retained.

"But it is on the condition that he has got the pre-requisite qualifications for that post he is occupying.

"The qualifications are clearly stated in the scheme of service. If you have those qualifications you don't have problem, but if you don't have those qualifications, there is no way we can assist," Jimeta said

She said that as the waiver had been given, the junior staff committee meeting had met and people had been screened.

"What we are waiting for now is for letters to be released to the affected officers.

"With those letters and the waiver, all we need to do is to match you to the Accountant-General's Office to be enrolled under the IPPIS so that you will start getting your salary as from January 2013.

"This is what we have achieved and if you see yourself being dropped know that you don't have the prerequisite qualifications," Jimeta added.

On welfare, she promised that from January 2013, the ministry would meet with the union on whatever would be approved for overhead.

"I promise you that from 2013, whatever is provided is going to be spent in accordance with your decisions and the details will be made open," she said. NAN

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