That 3-Day Work Week Plan


The directive that public servants in Imo
State should commence a three-day work
week from August 1, 2016 has been the subject of discourse across the country for some time. Indeed, the disregard of the directive by the public servants is yet another.
After surviving an earlier attempt at relieving thousands of workers of their job in January this year, the public servants did not need any soothsayer to suspect the motive of the state Governor, Rochas Okrocha, when he made the proposal that tended to give the impression that the State did not need the workers.
To ensure that no body was led astray, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Imo State directed the public servants to ignore the directive. Contrary to the orders of the state government, public servants continued with the five-day work per week, a development that should make any government worth its name to resign.
Clearly, the directive smacks of some hidden agenda, especially when the original reason the government gave was to reduce the wage bill of the state. But the seeming disregard for the laws of the land on the subject matter should worry all well-meaning Nigerians.
Also worrisome is the apparent desperation of the government to get what it wants, no matter how wrong the means would be. Indeed, that the government is overwhelmed by the state of the economy has become rather obvious by the adoption of absurd policies in some states.
As a matter of fact, the time has come for tested political and administrative hands to speak up because this obnoxious 3-day work directive appears to have excited the fancy of two or three other States.
The Tide is bothered that apart from the danger of making more Nigerians work less, at a time when all Nigerians need to work harder and longer to heal the economy, the apparent disregard for democratic norms is most condemnable.
In dressing the poison with sugar, the governor said that not only would the salary of the workers not be affected, the state hopes to use the policy to drive the plan to boost agriculture in the state. He says it would make public servants self-reliant in business.
It is clearly suspect that a man who wanted to dispense with the workers only months ago will want to pay them for days not worked for. On the other hand, where in the world has civil servants been the best persons to be used to revolutionise agriculture? Of all the studies in the field, none suggests anything close to what Okorocha is proposing.
Besides, where and how public servants can get land and capital for the enterprise will be an issue. How secure the villages are for people to go back home to farm must be known. Also, the agric support policies and infrastructure to make the effort worth any try begs for answer. Similarly, why people should be forced to farm, when one large mechanised farm can produce more is not clear.
Also worrisome is the selective application of the policy, that teachers, nurses, doctors and revenue collectors should be exempted. Meanwhile, what the policy will do to other sectors like the judiciary where time is always of the essence is not evaluated. Indeed, the reduction of visible formal authority across the board can be regrettable.
The Tide thinks that there are things that should not be open to local political abuse. Imo State cannot justifiably change the basic minimum internationally determined work-week and hours of work. The state cannot cancel annual/casual leave. May be, they would also arrogate to themselves the power to stop exams leave, maternity leave, among others.
We think that the war against the public service in Nigeria has become rather too obvious and condemnable. Unlike the political class that panders to the will of individuals, the public service operates on laws, rules and extant orders. To get up and make policies that conflict with existing rules is unacceptable. It is nothing short of an offence against the state.