Staff of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, on Monday shut down the headquarters of the fund in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, and the 37 area offices of the organization nationwide.
The workers embarked on a three-day warning strike over allegations of corruption and high-handedness by the director-general of the fund, Juliet Onaeko.
Addressing the aggrieved staff at the agency’s headquarters, the chairman of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Service Employees, Ishaya Audu, said they were not satisfied with the way the director-general was handling the affairs of the organization.
Some of the allegations levelled against the ITF chief executive as enumerated by the union officials included non-payment of “training contributors reimbursement claims”, which according to them, had made the staff redundant.
Other allegations are misuse of N21million approved for her foreign trips to seven countries; non remittance of all deductions from salaries of staff from June to date; and renovation of ITF headquarters at the cost of N249million.
They also alleged that the director-general dissolved the agency’s staff school board without following due process.
The workers also complained about thelack of internal facility for training.
Reacting to the allegations, the spokesperson of the fund, Ifoma Ihezeu, denied the allegations, saying workers were unfair to the director-general and the management.
She said the union officials had refused meeting with the management to discuss lingering issues.
“We have made several attempts to sit on a round table with officials of the union to discuss, but they refused to honour our call.
“They also refused to meet with the officials of our ministry when they came,” she said.
Ms. Ihezeu also refuted allegations by the staffers that the D-G was always absent from duty, and that she permanently lives Abuja rather than Jos, where the headquarters of the ITF is located.
“It is not true that the D-G resides in Abuja, the truth is that her visits to Abuja were for official reasons.
“You all know that the headquarters of our ministry, the Ministry of Industry – just like every other – is in Abuja.
“So, as the chief executive, she has to be in Abuja most of the time for official engagements,” the spokesperson explained.
She attributed the recent delay in meeting some of the fund’s financial obligations to the introduction of the Treasury Single Account by the federal government, noting that the fund was not owing staff salary.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the ITF training center, Bukuru, and the area office in Jos, were under lock and key.
The warning strike by ITF staff, according to union officials would last for three days, after which they would embark on an indefinite strike if their demands were not met.