The organised labour in Bayelsa has suspended its proposed strike to honour the founder of the Niger Delta University (NDU), the late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha.
The labour leaders said in a communiqué on Saturday that they had resolved to postpone the strike to demand for salaries owed the university workers by the state government.
The communiqué issued in Yenegoa on Saturday and signed by the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Stanley Ogoun, said the workers were making the sacrifice to honour the first visitor to the university.
It said that both the academic and non-academic unions agreed that the non-payment of their salaries had made life unbearable but pledged to stay action on the planned strike until Alamieyeseigha’s burial on April 9.
It said that the unions would converge at their various levels for an appropriate response after the burial.
It decried the insensitivity of the state government to the plight of the university workers.
The communiqué said the development had rendered the unions’ members unable to meet their obligations, resulting in their children and wards dropping out of schools.
“It is inhuman to expect our members to exercise further patience when three months into the year, salaries have not been paid.
“The development has resulted in families of our members going hungry, our children being driven out of school in the last term, the sick uncared for and eviction by landlords due to expiration of house rents.
“Also, there is increased rate of hypertension and related diseases arising from members’ inability to provide food on the table and worsened by no means of credit facilities,” the communiqué read.
It said that though the unions were in support of the state government’s staff verification as a means of exterminating payroll fraud in the system, they, however, faulted its timing.
The communiqué said that the workers argued that the timing was a calculated attempt to further worsen their already critical state.
It said their fears arose from the fact that previous verification set up four years ago failed to achieve any meaningful result.
It said they had called on the state government to immediately pay their three months salaries on the basis of the bank verification numbers they had earlier submitted, while the current verification continued.
“Our Visitor, Gov. Seriake Dickson, should be bothered by the cries of children whose working parents are no longer able to provide food and medical care for them or by the fact that people can no longer transport themselves to their places of work arising from the scarcity of petrol.
“By extending the period of no salaries beyond the third month, the visitor to the university is vicariously liable for systematically compelling genuine workers to indulge in criminality to keep their families alive.
“Where is the place of empathy in public policy formulation and implementation?
“We are calling on Gov. Dickson to condescend to the state of the ordinary worker whose take home pay cannot even take him home.
“The misguided notion of university autonomy as held by only the Bayelsa State Government in the entire country should not be used as a guise for abdicating responsibility to the university,” the communiqué said.
It, however, promised that the workers would continue to contribute meaningfully to the human capital development of the state.