The Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has announced that all public servants would undergo mandatory training programmes from January, next year, as part of his administration’s on-going reforms in the sector to enhance greater productivity.
Governor Dickson announced this while declaring open the two-day meeting of the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council, with the theme, “Emerging Employer/Employee Relations Management Strategies for Addressing Potential Conflicts in the Public Sector,” which took place in Yenagoa.
A Government House Press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Francis Ottah Agbo, noted that, the move was in recognition of the critical role public servants play in the formulation and execution of government’s policies and programmes, stressing that, a well-trained workforce is a national asset.
According to Governor Dickson, a bill will be forwarded to the State House of Assembly to make it compulsory for teachers at the primary and secondary school levels to undergo some forms of assessment as part of their qualifications to teach in the state.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to the fight against payroll fraud, ghost workers syndrome and other forms of sharp practices, pointing out that, the current restructuring of the public sector is yielding positive results, including reduction of the wage bill from N6 billion to about N4 billion.
Governor Dickson, who offered to host the meeting annually in Yenagoa, emphasized the need for collaboration to improve the government-labour relations by proffering solutions to the collective challenges facing both parties.
His words: “On the way forward, I have always been of the view that a well-trained workforce is a national asset. That is why as an integral part of our reforms, the state government will from January next year roll out mandatory training programmes for all our workforce.”
“This meeting will help us see how we can re-adjust and prepare for the post oil era for the economic survival of the country.”
While stressing that Governors were concerned about the welfare workers, Dickson said labour cannot be a parallel government.
He said since the inception of his administration, he has never tempered with local government councils and advised the organised labour to desist from capitalising on the nation-wide salary crisis to blackmail Governors, because according to him, "no Governor will refuse to pay salary if the money to pay is there."
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dame Didi Walson-Jack said, over the years the welfare of workers has been uncoordinated due to the lack of institutional mechanism for the management of their wellbeing.
Mrs. Walson-Jack, who is also the Chairman of the Council, however, said the present administration was embarking on a number of reform initiatives to improve the conditions of service, remuneration and other benefits for civil servants and their retired counterparts. She also praised Governor Dickson for the development of Bayelsa State.
In their remarks, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Comrade Boboye Kagama underscored the need to review the national minimum wage to address the widening economic inequalities in the country.
They also called for the strengthening of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council and the need for all stakeholders to work together to reduce industrial conflict with a view to promoting national productivity.
In his goodwill message, the State Head of Service, Rev. Thomas Zidafamor, highlighted some of the achievements of Governor Dickson’s administration to include the prevailing industrial harmony in the state and expressed the hope that, the outcome of the meeting would be beneficial to both the workers and the government.