Members of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Imo State branch led by her President Pastor Richard Eze, have threatened industrial action against the State Government if salaries of workers are not paid on or before Friday, April 24, 2020.
According to the second warning letter dated on April 20, 2020, addressed to the State Governor Hope Uzodinma and signed by the Union President, Pastor Richard Eze and his Publicity Secretary, Comrade Ebem Njoku respectively, the letter stated that the union members will embark on an indefinite strike with a demonstration in the state capital until their salaries are paid to them.
The Union, in the said letter, claimed that Governor Uzodinma has received March and April federal allocation for their salaries and wondered how her members would be locked indoors without salaries and food items amid curfew and lockdown order made by the state governor.
The Union described the State Government’s reported fraud and issues of over-bloated salaries as diversionary, spurious and misleading with a view to delaying workers’ salaries, just as it is not enough to withhold salaries legitimately earned, the letter reads.
The letter read further: “We the entire members of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Imo State Branch wishes to express our dismay over the refusal of Imo State Government to release the March Salaries of Local Government workers in the state even as that of April is due.
“Despite all the humble representations, fulfillment of all demands and a demand letter letter to the Governor by the leadership of Nulge to this regard, the State Government is yet to do the needful and release the Salaries.
“Our members and their many dependants in the circumstance have been left to languish in hunger and hardship even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Easter celebration and the current dusk to dawn curfew.
“We are aware that, on behalf of the local Governments, the State Government had long collected the March and April Federation Allocation of Local Governments in the State, and in line with the NFIU guidelines which the Governor promised to respect, it is expected that the monies should be paid into the account of Local Governments from where Salaries are released as first charge.
“That the Auditor General for Local Governments is now reporting fraud in the handling of local government funds, to us is spurious, diversionary and deceitful having served and played along with former administrations without raising alarm. We see this as blindfolding and misleading the Government of the day to punish the poor and harmless Local Government workers.
“Until verified, and the culprits (if any) identified via the House of Assembly Public Accounts Committee, these allegations are not enough to continuously withhold the legitimate Salaries of our members.
“In the light of above, if at the close of work Fri 24th April 2020, Local Government workers are not paid their March and April Salaries, NULGE shall be left with no other option than to shut activities in all the local governments and embark on a peaceful demonstration. We would rather die of Government bullets or Coronavirus than hunger.”