The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, in Cross River State on Wednesday picketed the state`s Ministry of Local Government Affairs and the Office of the Head of Service.
This followed the non-payment of eight months` salaries of local government workers and primary school teachers in the state.
John Ushie, Chairman of NLC in the state, told journalists at the Ministry of Finance in Calabar that the picketing became necessary because they had exhausted all avenues, including dialogue and signing of Memorandum of Understanding between labour and the government.
According to Mr. Ushie, if the picketing fails to yield the desired result, labour will embark on total strike to press for workers` demands.
He said the state had engaged the service of a consultant who carried out personnel audit and tagged some civil servants as ‘ghost workers.’
He expressed regret that the development had resulted in the stoppage of their salaries.
“As I speak, there are local government workers and primary school teachers who have not received salaries since June 2016.
“We discovered that a lot of our colleagues are dying while some are becoming bed-ridden and many of them can no longer take care of their responsibilities as parents because they no longer receive salaries.
“How can you tag someone who is qualified and has been working for close to 20 years as a ghost worker when he is present at work every day?
“The consultant is the major cause of our problem and he must leave.
“We are not against any form of audit but they should bring a firm that can do the job creditably.
“If nothing is done after this exercise, we shall review our stand and go on total strike because an injury to one is an injury to all,” he said.
Mr. Ushie maintained that labour was not against personnel audit, but insisted that the job of the consultant must end at screening.
He said the consultant should not be involved in the payment of salaries of civil servants in the state.
Clarkson Otu, the TUC Chairman, said that it was quite disheartening for a worker who is dedicated to his job not to be paid for eight months.
Efforts to reach the Commissioners for Local Government Affairs and the HoS, John Ulafo and Ekpeyong Henshaw respectively were not successful.
The duo neither took their calls nor replied the text messages sent to their cell phones.