By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has urged local government workers to be patient as government is taking practical steps to ensure they benefit from the 30 percent new minimum wage.
Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo stated this weekend while addressing a delegation of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) Bayelsa Chapter led by its President, Comrade Akpos Ekiegha, in Yenagoa.
The Deputy Governor reaffirmed the present administration’s commitment to workers welfare, noting that the process to implement the minimum wage for councils was underway.
According to him, a committee has already been set up for the purpose, assuring that government is also working towards implementing workers’ promotion at all levels to foster motivation, career growth and progression.
His words, “The minimum wage committee will work on the report which will be reviewed before implementation. We are also looking into the issue of implementing the promotions. We will harmonize the promotions for both health workers and local government employees”.
On the issue of identity cards raised by NULGE, the Deputy Governor said it is the duty of every organization to provide IDs for its workers, and therefore urged the various councils and Rural Development Areas (RDAs) to shoulder the responsibility.
He said “Identity cards are the responsibility of government not the unions. It will be well captured and centrally signed by an appropriate government official just as we did for the state workers where the Secretary to the State Government signed for every worker.”
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, however, maintained his warning on local government leadership not to see the councils as mere cash points for payment of salaries but rather as a viable vehicle of transformation and development.
He noted that activities of the local government areas have a ripple effect on the state and federal governments, and therefore urged the various councils to be up and doing to deliver the dividends of democracy at the grassroots level.
“For me, the local government workers are the most important in the state. I believe that when the local government is on its feet, the state and federal governments will be progressive.
Before we came in people believed local government is supposed to be just cash-points, as if when you pay salary, then you have done your job as a chairman, councillor or principal officer. It should not be the only objective of the local government council”.
“Before we came in, even when the allocation was higher, they were only paying workers salaries and sometimes even borrow for that singular reason. But now, some of them have started embarking on projects.
Earlier, President of NULGE, Comrade Akpos Ekiegha commended the government for putting the needs of workers at the forefront, despite the slowdown in the economy due to the coronavirus pandamic and fall in the price of crude oil.
Comrade Ekiegha who also acknowledged the present administration’s at improving service delivery in the local government system, however appealed to government to implement workers promotion and other entitlements.