Monday, October 20, 2014 7:09 pm
Members of staff of the Federal Ministry of Information on Monday in Abuja barricaded the gate into the premises of Radio House, protesting poor welfare and the non-payment of some allowances.
The workers, who chanted solidarity songs, carrying placards and tree branches, said they were being owed promotion arrears, 28 days repatriation allowance and a backlog of allowances for training programmes attended.
The leader of the protest, Comrade Adam Ogwole, said that the workers were unhappy and wondered whether the ministry did not receive any financial allocation.
“We are not happy; we have had series of meetings with the management all to no avail. All we keep hearing is there is no fund.
“For many years, we have not been paid our promotion allowance, no repatriation allowance, our stores are empty, no working materials, no staff training.”
While expressing displeasure over the situation he alleged that management trivialised staff welfare issues.
The protesters also disrupted a planned meeting of the outgoing minister, Mr Labaran Maku and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Folasade Esan, who quickly came to address the protesting staff.
Esan blamed the non-payment of the allowances on paucity of funds.
“Out of over N800 million approved in the 2014 budget only N218 million has been released so far.
“The ministry has bought a staff bus to join the fleet. You did not have to barricade the gate before I went to the Head of Service to request for more buses.
“I have personally approved items for the store; so it is a lie to say we have not bought anything for the store.”
Esan clarified that the issue of promotion arrears did not lie with the ministry but promised prompt payment once monies were released.
Maku, who came in later, expressed displeasure over the protests and blamed himself for not communicating effectively and meeting with members of staff.
He said that he owed all his success to members of staff of the ministry and as such, was very grateful to them.
While appealing to the workers to sheath their swords, Maku advised that the ministry institute quarterly meetings with members of staff and the union, to forestall a recurrence of such protest.
The minister’s timely intervention doused the tension and brought the protest to an end, while the protesters dispersed with mixed feelings.