Civil servants and other workers on the payroll of Imo state Government on Friday staged a protest within the premises of the State Secretariat calling for the withdrawal of a document which the state government introduced that they must sign before they can receive their salaries.
Workers earlier this week were excited with the pronouncement by the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, that they will celebrate the Xmas with all their owed salaries in their pockets but that changed when according to them a document emanated from the office of the Head of Service mandating the workers to sign it before they could receive their cheques.
Part of the contentious document titled Acknowledgement/Endorsement form read
“I hereby voluntarily support and endorse any action/ policy of the government against any worker who in the opinion of the government is suspected to be inefficient or indolent, redundant, corrupt or manipulation of age, non verification of certificate or any grievous indiscipline etc”.
However, the Imo state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Austin Chilakpor, while addressing the workers said that the union is not comfortable with the form, accusing the government of ulterior motives.
“Through out my years in service, I have never seen where the payment of a worker’s salary is tied to any form. The workers should be paid their salaries because they have worked for it and it is their right as civil servants.
“We are aware that the Government has concluded plans to retrench some workers under the excuse of the economy in the country but there is a laid down procedure to do such and labour is saying no to these plans,” the labour leader said.
He said that the move to retrench workers without a well worked out arrangement with the labour union in the state is unacceptable adding that the compulsory signing of the said form is alien to civil service procedure and warned workers not to sign the forms while calling on Government to retrieve the forms and go ahead with the payment of the salaries.
Reacting to the protest whereby the workers also called for his sack, the State Head of Service, Callistus Ekenze, denied that the form was designed to secretly sack workers in January.
He said the document was designed for administrative purposes and also a policy framework of the government. He however called on the workers to go ahead with their duties without fear but did not state categorically if the government is embarking on retrenchment.