The Benue State Nigeria Labour Congress Chairman, Terungwa Igbe, has begged the state government to settle all unpaid salaries arrears and pensions of workers.
According to Igbe, who decried the experience of workers in the state, made the call at the state secretariat along Otukpo road instead of Ibrahim Babangida square, the usual venue where workers celebrate May Day.
He noted that workers opted for a low-key commemoration of the event due to huge salary arrears being owed by the state government.
The NLC boss also demanded the harmonisation of all workers’ retirement age from 35 years of service to 40 years and attainment of 65 years of retirement age instead of the present 60 years.
He said, “At the local government level, teachers are owed, 11 months; workers were being owed 10 months arrears of salary. At the state level, workers are owed eight months and pensioners are owed 38 months respectively.
Meanwhile, the state governor, Samuel Ortom, expressed appreciation to workers in the state for their unalloyed support and resilience over the years.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, Ortom said, “As we celebrate this year’s workers’ day, I sincerely express my solidarity and appreciation for the hardworking men and women of the Benue State civil servants who keep our economy running and our society functioning smoothly.
“The past years have been challenging for all of us and I know that many of you have faced difficult circumstances and uncertainties in your workplaces like payment of salaries and other allowances. The situation has been worsened by insecurity in the state. Yet, you have had to adapt to new working conditions and navigate a rapidly changing economic landscape.
“But through it all, you have persevered and shown incredible resilience. Your dedication and commitment to your jobs and our communities are an inspiration to us all.”
On his part, The Governor-Elect, Dr Hyacinth Alia, in his own goodwill message assured the workers to keep hope alive saying that good days are just around the corner.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Isaac Uzaan, the incoming governor described civil service as the engine room of every functional government.
He regretted, however, that the Benue civil service has become very epileptic and in a state of a near collapse with a lot of backlog of unpaid salaries, pensions and gratuities.
“Fr. Alia promised to infuse life into the civil service to keep it working.
“He said our workers are the inspiration for all of us; their hard work and dedication motivate others to work for the growth and development of the state.
“The priest of God finally called on the people to honour the efforts and salute the hard work of Benue workers, saying without workers, no nation can walk the path of success and progress,” the statement read in parts.