Wednesday, April 5, 2017 1:42 pm
The meeting between Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and labour unions over a compulsory education levy on civil servants imposed by the state government has ended in a stalemate, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that the Higher Education Students’ Loan and Education Development Trust Fund Law, makes it mandatory for workers in public and private sector to contribute to the fund.
The government would contribute 10% of its internally generated revenue, while public servants will contribute between N500 and N100, 000 monthly depending on their grade level to the fund.
The unions, however, opposed the levy after the governor signed the Law on March 29.
Chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state told NAN in separate interviews on Wednesday that the meeting did not arrive at a consensus.
Mr John Ndiomu, the NLC Chairman said that the union leaders would present details of the discussion to their members at a joint congress meeting.
Ndiomu, however, said that the government had approved all pending promotions of workers.
Also Mr Tari Dounana, the TUC Chairman noted that the education levy and the witdrawal of a 20 per cent tax waiver granted civil servants were additional burden on workers.
Dounana lamented that the imposition of the levy came at a time the government had failed to settle over six months backlog of workers salaries.
The TUC chairman described the levy as “anti-people”, and made without the input of key stakeholders and other members of the public.
“It is very unfortunate that such laws that will require civil servants to make contributions from their salaries were passed and assented to, without a public hearing for stakeholders to make their views known.
“The workers have made enough sacrifice, with between six to 13 months salary arrears and we had agreed to support the proposed Health Insurance policy where workers will also make contributions, this is one deduction too many.
“For them to formulate the policy without labour input leaves much to be desired, we are opposed to it,” Dounana said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jonathan Obuebite, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, urged the workers to refrain from politicising the policy.
According to him, the state government had invested about N50 billion into the education sector.
“The state government sees the welfare of its workforce as a priority and the policy is in the overall interest of the citizenry.
“It is meant to provide world class education to every child in Bayelsa, and we want the people to make nominal sacrifices,’’ Obuebite claimed.