Workers of Radio Bayelsa, christened Glory FM have accused the General Manager of the radio station, Mr. John Idumange of intimidation and highhandedness.
This is even as the industrial dispute at the radio station took a twist yesterday as the General Manager was alleged to have flogged four workers of the establishment.
The Radio Bayelsa Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ) and Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Unions (RATTAWU) consequently shut the radio station. Some reports, however, said the staffers were whipped by suspected thugs.
Mr Tonye Yemoleigha, NUJ Chairman in Radio Bayelsa told newmen yesterday in Yenagoa that he and three female staff were caned by the General Manager of the station, Mr John Idumange.
“Four of us, myself and three female staff were flogged by Idumange himself. The report that it was thugs is inaccurate. It was the General Manager himself. The blisters on the skin are more severe for the ladies.
“We have reported the matter to the Ekeki Police Division and sought medical attention at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa. Workers have been constantly intimidated and threatened for no just cause.”
Mr Idumange declined to comment on the allegation that he caned the four members of staff.
Yemoleigha further said: “Mr John Angese, Bayelsa Council Chairman of NUJ who is a staff of Radio Bayelsa has also been threatened with a sack, we are all being victimised for insisting that the General Manager complies with public service rules.
“We have been under siege since the General Manager was appointed on December 6, 2016. We are not opposed to repositioning the station which is in our interest but we want the procedure to follow due process,” Yemoleigha said.
It was gathered that after the station went off air, the management mobilised armed security men and few employees who rebuffed the strike to reopen the station.
It was also reported that the station has continued to play music all through as the station’s scheduled programmes and news bulletin could not be aired.
Yemoleigha said that workers of the station are not opposed to staff redeployment.
“But the unions should also be part of the process to ensure that the best hands are not sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, sentiment or witchhunt.
“We are also aware of the alleged over N5 million naira payroll fraud which Idumange claimed to have uncovered and has referred it to the police for investigation.
“Ordinarily, in line with established procedures, an Investigative Panel should have been instituted to look into the matter and come up with a report with which management would act as appropriate.
“All these are expressly spelt out in the Public Service Rules; however, we are requesting for a copy of the police report after their investigation.
“We have asked management to properly discipline everyone involved in an established case of running the salary of a staff who resigned with effect from August 2016,” Yemoleigha said
Idumange dismissed the allegations levelled against him. He said that the unions were being used to sabotage his efforts at re-positioning the station which was in a deplorable state before his appointment.
He refused to speak on the allegations that he flogged staffers of the station.
He told newsmen that there was no going back on his reform efforts as they have received the blessings of the supervising Bayelsa Ministry of Information.
“This small radio station has 346 workers; employment and job placements have never followed due process, we are currently reorganising the place and they are resisting our efforts.
“Those ghost workers must be fished out and the payroll cleaned up.
“The wage bill of the station is N35 million monthly and it is not sustainable. My predecessor incurred a debt of N40 million.
“The unions are being instigated by the Heads of Departments affected in the illegal recruitment, and those who came into that place through the back door’’, he said.
Labour Lauds Rivers Assembly Over Power Devolution
The organised labour in Rivers State has commended the Rivers State House of Assembly for backing power devolution in the country.
Speaking to The Tide, the chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Beatrice Itubo explained that the decision of the members of the assembly is a step in the right direction and good for the unity and stability of the country.
Itubo added that the lawmakers should call for contributions and input of the key stakeholders before passing into law several bills in the House.
She stressed that allowing critical stakeholders to make input would strengthen the tenets of democracy in the state and indeed Nigeria as majority of the people would better appreciate the bills through dissemination from the stakeholders.
She enjoined the Assembly to reexamine the issue of the local government autonomy proposed by both chambers of the National Assembly, stressing that the congress strongly believe that granting autonomy to the local government councils in Nigeria would strengthen and deepen democracy in the country.
The NLC boss added that the organised labour would continue to mobilize its members to support the assembly to perform its constitutional legislative duties in the state.
She further explained that labour in the state is prepared to partner the assembly in its determination to address the plight of the workers in the state.
She added that the organised labour would continue to commend the state government in its efforts to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Ex-NLC Boss Tasks FG On Minimum Wage
A former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Abdulwaheed Omar has urged the Federal Government to always implement the law on regular review of the national minimum wage to promote national growth.
Omar gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja last Monday.
He said that the call for government to tackle the issue about minimum wage review had become important because of the delay in the implementation of the law.
According to him, the national minimum wage law prohibits employers from hiring workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly take home pay.
“The law was established to address issues faced by workers, I think the cause for review of the national minimum is welcomed; it is just that it is almost belated.
“The issue of minimum wage is an aspect of our law; it is now part of our law in Nigeria, so I did not even expect that it will take much time.
“In the first place, the law provides that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years; the five years elapsed since 2015.
“So, I had expected that that very year government should have set up a tripartite committee then.
“It is not something that government should wait until NLC threatens to embark on strike before it sets up committee, it is about the law that should be respected,” Omar said.
He said although government had promised to review the national minimum wage by the third quarter of the year, it should put measures in place to sustain such and ensure effective implementation.
He said the N18, 000 minimum wage was long overdue for review and urged government to act promptly to improve the economic well-being of workers.
PenCom Recovers N1.34bn Pension
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has recovered pension contributions and interest totalling N1.34billion from defaulting employers during the third quarter of 2017.
The Commission in its 2017 third quarter report posted on its website said it used 55 consultants as recovery agents to get back the outstanding pension contributions and penalties from the defaulting employers.
PenCom said the affected employers were issued with appropriate notice to remit the outstanding pension contributions.
“During the quarter, the sum of N1.34 billion was recovered, this brings the total recoveries made since inception of the Recovery Agents’ activities in 2012 to N13.58 billion,” it stated.
On Pension contributions within the period, it indicates that the total monthly pension contribution by contributors from the public and private sectors into their Retirement Saving Accounts (RSA) was N4.38 trillion.
This, it said showed an increase of N135.22 billion representing 3.18 per cent over the total contributions as at the end of the previous quarter.
According to the report, the aggregate total contribution shows that the public sector contributed 51.34 per cent, while the private sector contributed the remaining 48.64 per cent.
It, however, pointed out that during the quarter under review; the public sector contributed 40.87 per cent of the total contributions received while the private sector contributed 59.13 per cent.
It further revealed that the aggregate total pension contribution of the private sector increased from N2.05 trillion as at second quarter of 2017 to N2.13 trillion as at third quarter of 2017, representing a growth of 3.89 per cent.
Also, the aggregate total pension contribution by the public sector grew by 2.52 per cent from N2.20 trillion to N2.25 trillion over the same period.
The statement noted that the commission continued the ongoing refund of contributions made by military and other security service agencies personnel exempted from the contributory pension scheme.
It added that during the quarter under review, the department responsible for military pensions processed 254 applications for the refund.
PenCom said N39.83 million was refunded to the contributors while the sum of N127.13 million, representing contributions made by the Federal Government on their behalf was returned to the contributory pension account.
The statement also indicated that 27 state governments have enacted laws to implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as at the third quarter of 2017, while eight states were currently in the process of implementing the CPS law.
The report revealed that Yobe was, however, yet to commence the process of enacting a law on the CPS.
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