orkers at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba has written to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to inform him of that they were not ready to forfeit their 14 months’ salary arrears on the altar of new minimum wage.
ABSUTH workers along with the Abia Polytechnic and the College of Education Technical, Arochukwu had faced salary debt issues ranging from 10 months and above.
The workers in the letter dated 14th January, 2020, which was made available to our reporter in Aba yesterday and signed by the Joint Action Committee Secretary, Samuel Kalu and chairman, Inyama Sylvanus explained reasons for their decision.
The letter reads: “Arising from a General Congress of Abia State University Teaching Hospital Joint Unions held on Tuesday, 14th January, 2020, the staff unanimously and vehemently refused to jump or skip any arrears of salaries in order to receive the N30, 000 (Thirty Thousand Naira) new minimum wage.
“It could be recalled that the government is owing us 14 months’ arrears of salaries from November 2018 to December 2019.
“There is no how we will accept to be paid January 2020 in the guise of the new minimum wage.
“However, when this backlog of salaries is cleared, we will be happy to key into the consequential adjustment of the N30, 000 new minimum wage.”
The unions addressed the letter directly to the governor, and copied the Head of Service, Ikpeazu’s Chief of Staff and deputy, ABSUTH’s CMD, NLC and TUC.
They also made copies available to the Department of State Security (DSS), Abia Police Commissioner, Abia Health Commissioner and the state’s Accountant-General.
Kalu said the letter followed information the unions got alleging that Ikpeazu has directed Abia Ministry of Finance and Accountant General’s office to prepare Jan. 2020 with minimum wage salary scale waiving the debts.
He said that the governor had not kept his June 17, 2019 promise of paying the backlog with current salaries which led to suspension of ABSUTH’s salary-debt-induced 7 months strike.
Kalu said if Abia government refused to pay the backlogs of their salaries, it may force the unions back to the trenches, adding that Ikpeazu should form a new policy decision to pay both old and the new salaries.