Radio Bayelsa Workers Shun Certificate Verification Exercise, Threaten to Shut Down Station
By Amos Okioma
LAGOS JANUARY 11TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The workers of Radio Bayelsa on Monday shunned the certificate verification exercise ordered by a newly appointed General Manager of the station, Dr John Idumange to commence on Monday, threatening to shut down the station if the exercise was not postponed..
The workers had issued a seven-day ultimatum which will lapse on January 10, 2017 to the station’s General Manager, to speedily resolve the outstanding labour crisis and restore industrial harmony.
The exercise did not take off as the workers rather attended a joint congress of the two unions in the radio station.
The workers, under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Radio and Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) resolved to shun the certificate verification after a joint congress of RATTAWU and NUJ.
More than 200 staff of the radio station christened Glory FM attended the joint congress of NUJ and RATTAWU at the station’s premises in Yenagoa.
The meeting presided was presided over by Bayelsa Chairman of NUJ Mr John Angase, and Bayelsa Chairman of RATTAWU Mr David Emiebi.
The unions urged the management to suspend the verification exercise within the next 48 hours or face industrial action adding that failure to convene a meeting to resolve contentious issues with staff would compel the workforce to down tools.. .
Addressing the workers, Angase said that the unions had made several unsuccessful efforts to mediate between Radio Bayelsa chapters of NUJ and RATTAWU and the management of the station.
“The certificates verification slated to commence on Jan. 9, should be suspended pending a meeting with members of staff to resolve the contentious issues causing industrial disharmony.
“We are not in any way opposed to certificates verification, but we do believe that due process should be followed and the processes should be discussed with the unions.
“We want the new general manager to address the workers and unfold his plans for the station.
“We therefore urge every worker to boycott the exercise pending when the general manager sees the need to meet with workers to iron things out ,’’ Angase said.
The unions also alleged that the general manager had breached public service rules by compelling senior officers to take directives from their juniors..
They said that there were established procedures within the public service to deal with cases of incompetence and misconduct as the sanctions spelt out for such offences were clear.
In his reaction, the general manager dismissed the allegations, accusing the unions of being used to sabotage the repositioning of the station.
Idumange said on Monday that there was no going back on the verification exercise as it was authorized by the supervising ministry of information and anyone who decides to participate would be declared a ghost worker.
“The exercise is not even my brainchild, infact my predecessor had compiled a list of over 200 workers for redeployment, so those who wish to continue working here should participate or risk job loss..
He said that the senior officials affected by the ongoing reforms were using the unions to resist the reforms.
He said the exercise was targeted at ensuring that employees were placed in their fields of study as well as to fish out those with fake certificates.
“There is nothing like industrial disharmony. This small radio station has 346 workers, employment and job placement has never followed due process.
“To correct those anomalies, we are commencing certificate and staff verification which will last for four days.
“Most of those with fake certificates are afraid and they are creating a semblance of unrest.
“They wrote to me to stop the exercise, but the Ministry of Information said the exercise must continue.
“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 and my predecessor incurred a debt of N40 million which I will battle to clear..
“The unions are being instigated by the Heads of Department affected in the illegal recruitment, and those who came into that place through the back door.
“These include a situation where a family- the father, mother and three children- are working in the station; it is unbelievable, but true,” Idumange said.