By Samuel Ita, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the prosecution of all perpetrators of ghost workers syndrome in the nation’s public service.Chairman of the council in the state, Mr Etim Ukpong, made the call in Uyo on Friday in a chat with newsmen.
Ukpong decried that over the years, different tiers of government had complained of ghost workers but that no perpetrator of the act had been identified or punished.
He said that he would like to see the payroll officers and their supervisors prosecuted in the court and jailed if found culpable, to serve as deterrent to others.
Ukpong decried a situation where the government could not pay workers and pensioners promptly and regularly, because of bloated wage bill occasioned by ghost workers syndrome.
He expressed the hope that with the use of bank verification number and biometric capturing, the problem of ghost workers would be eliminated in Nigeria.
On non-payment of pensioners in the state, Ukpong regretted that primary school teachers, who retired in June, 2015, only got one month’s pension a year after.
“We have the issue of pension mostly in local government, direct local government workers and primary school teachers.
“Direct state workers in ministries do not have serious problem and the government has been meeting their obligation,” Ukpong said.
He, however, disagreed with the state government that pensioners were not owed, saying that the unpleasant condition of the pensioners forced them to form associations like “Local Government Retirees’ Pensions Group’’ and “Retired Teachers’ Pension Group’’.
He disclosed that some retirees had been swindled by persons claiming to have access to the state government and would cause their entitlements to be paid.
“We want to request our senior citizens, the retired workers, whether from local government, teachers or anywhere, that the NLC is working to ensure that all retirees are paid,” Ukpong said.
He commended the state’s House of Assembly for intervening in the lingering problem of non-payment of pensioners by setting up a seven-member committee to resolve the problem.
“Our position in the NLC is to agitate for workers in the state; I am very happy because the state has really come to listen to these issues. The House of Assembly ad hoc committee is headed by a former labour chairman in the state, Udo Kerian-Akpan, now representing Oruk-Anam State Constiuency,” Ukpong said.
He said that there was another committee working on verification of the actual number of pensioners in the state, and that he would cause the list to be pasted at NLC House.
He expressed the hope that retirees in the state would be paid their entitlements promptly when the verification exercise was completed.