By Maryam Garba Hassan
The National Association of Senior Staff of Federal Ministry of Education has embarked on an indefinite strike nationwide, over the ministry’s inability to pay them their promotion arrears from 2007 to 2014.
The aggrieved staff, who locked up offices at the ministry to prevent staff from going into offices to work, pasted placards with different messages such as: ”Enough is Enough, pay us our promotion arrears; The cheating is too much’, to ‘We are suffering since 2007 to 2014. Pay us our money”.
According to the North-Central coordinator of the association, Comrade Amadu Yinka, members of the association are embarking on the indefinite strike to demand for their 2007 to 2014 promotional arrears.
“The ministry paid us half in 2011 and up to date, our promotion arrears for 2012 to 2014 have not been paid by the ministry.
He alleged that information from the Budget and Planning Office revealed that the federal government has earmarked budget for the allowances from 2007 to 2014 to be paid but the money did not get to the staff.
According to him, it took the union to go on strike last year before the staff got to know that the 2011 promotion arrears were released. This, he said, was achieved through the effort of a veteran unionist, who went to the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and discovered that over N600m approved was lying there for almost 11 months.
However, in a statement issued by the Director of Press at the Ministry yesterday, in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, at the Ministry, Dr. MacJohn Nwaobiala, has dismissed the claim by the association that the Ministry received the sum of N1.8 billion from the Federal Government to settle debt owed the staff, describing the claim as false.
Speaking in response to the strike action by some staff of the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary said it was sad that senior civil servants, who have all the opportunities to obtain accurate information, are disrupting official transactions based on mere hearsay.
Nwaobiala acknowledged that it is sad enough that staff were being owed some allowances since 2007, but stressed that the authority had never relented in its efforts to secure release of funds from the relevant offices to settle these bills.
He, however, assured that within the meager overhead allocations of the ministry, management has resolved to settle some of the bills in phases.
He appealed to the striking workers to show understanding, saying that the matter had been reported to Federal Ministry of Labour, which has already arranged to meet with the union’s leadership tomorrow.