As Nigerians gear up to face the impending hardship as a result of the recession already steering in the face of Nigeria, Niger state government has concluded plans to slash the salaries of civil servants in the state by 50 percent to be able to cope with the present economic reality.
But the Organized Labour in the state have vowed that any attempt to slash the salaries of workers would be met with stiff resistance and this has set the stage for a possible showdown between the government and the labour.
Indication to this emerged on Monday when Government told officials of the NLC and those of the Trade Union Congress at a meeting held in the office of the Head of Service that it can no longer afford to pay 100% salaries to workers effective from December, 2020.
Our correspondent gathered that the meeting was attended by all members of the State Executive Council except the Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and his Deputy Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso as well as all the Permanent Secretaries.
The meeting was addressed by the State Accountant General Alhaji Abdullahi Saidu where the news was broke to them.
The Accountant General, it was gathered, told the gathering that there was a drastic decline in the state income from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue as a result, the state is now in a financial mess, and therefore had no choice than to take this painful decision.
Aside the dwindling allocation from the Federation Account, Saidu disclosed that series of deductions from source had further depleted the income of the state.
The Accountant General further informed the meeting that one percent above 50 will shut the government into deficit about N1.7billion hence the decision to Slash the salaries by 50%.
Although the government promised that the 50 percent deduction would be refunded back to workers when the economy improves, therefore the organized labour should show understanding with government, this however fell into the deaf ears of labour Representatives at the meeting.
It was gathered that the officials of the state NLC and those of the Trade Union Congress at the meeting, categorically told the government that it will not accept one percent less from workers salaries.
They were said to have told the government team that “Salary payment is a first line charge” as such whatever the government got it should pay 100% salaries and source for funds for other projects and programmes.
Worried by the development, Labour on Tuesday summoned an emergency Congress where the issue was put before the delegates.
The Congress rose from the emergency meeting held at the Labour house rejecting the decision of government but asked all the affiliate unions to return to their members to hold Congresses where the issue should top the agenda and gave the Unions till 6pm on Wednesday to submit in writing the decisions of the unions.
However as at 2pm on Wednesday no fewer than 28 affiliate unions in the state had returned their reports, backing the NLC in whatever step it will take to make the government change it decision.
The NLC and the TUC officials are expected to meet on Thursday where a final decision on the next line of action will be taken.
Efforts to get the comments of the state NLC chairman Comrade Yakubu Garba was abortive as he could not be reached on his cell phones neither was he in the office.
Also the Commissioner for Information Alhaji Mohammed Sani Idris could not be reached as he was said to have traveled out of the state for official engagements.
It could be recalled that Labour had in July this year embarked on three day warning strike when government slashed workers salaries by 30 percent, citing drop in revenue from Federation Account, occasioned by the outbreak of Coronavirus as it reasons.