From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Benue State House of Assembly has assured the organised labour of its preparedness to meet Governor Samuel Ortom with a view to ensuring that part of the arrears or salaries owed workers were paid to hem.
This step, they believed, would enable the workers to suspend the indefinite industrial action they embarked on since Monday.
Speaker of the House, Terkimbi Ikyange, who stated this, on Friday, during an extraordinary legislative session with the labour also begged them not to insist on the payment of four to five months arrears before the strike would be suspended in view of the tight financial condition of the State.
Ikyange posited that if Labour insisted that they would not call-off the strike only when four or five months arrears of salaries were paid, it would then mean that the state would have to source for about N40 billion to meet up with their demand.
While saying that that the implication of asking the state government to borrow as a palliative measure to the problem of huge salary bill without tackling the problem from the source would be counter-productive, the Speaker said the Assembly had resolved to assist in getting to the root of the high wage bill, even as he appealed to labour to cooperate with the Assembly in its efforts to ensure regular payment of salaries.
Earlier in a remark, Chairman Benue State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Godwin Anya, had said that labour was asking that at least four or five months salary arrears must be paid before they would suspend the ongoing industrial action due to the hardship workers in the State were passing through.
Anya explained further that labour was equally worried about the huge wage bill hence its decision to commission a committee to come up with the exact wage bill of the State.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Titus Zam and Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Philip Tachin, today also appeared before the House in Plenary.