Radio Bayelsa staff unions resist reforms by new GM, issue 7-day ultimatum

Posted by News Express | 9 January 2017 | 1,708 times

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Radio Bayelsa GM John Idumange.

  The Radio Bayelsa chapters of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Radio and Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) has kicked against moves by the newly appointed General Manager, Mr. John Idumange.

Idumange, a former Special Assistant on Social Media to Governor Dickson, was appointed some one month ago to replace Mr. Hayford Lawson, who was redeployed to the Government House.

The two unions called on the General Manager of the station to speedily resolve the labour crisis and restore industrial harmony.

The unions made the appeal in a joint communique issued after a joint congress on the state of affairs in the Bayelsa government owned media houses.

The statement issued in Yenagoa on Sunday was signed by Messrs Tonye Yeimoleigha, Chairman, Radio Bayelsa Chapel, NUJ and Pius Otiti, Chairman, Radio Bayelsa branch of RATTAWU.

The unions urged the newly appointed General Manager of the station, Mr. John Idumange, to convene a staff meeting to discuss pressing challenges facing the cooperation with a view to finding lasting solutions for smooth operations.

The unions noted that the proposed certificate verification exercise slated to commence January 9 was ill timed as a similar exercise was concluded recently, adding that there were crucial challenges that require urgent attention.

They maintained that the radio station required a strategic direction based on the prioritisation of the needs of the media establishment.

“The certificate verification exercise slated to commence on January 9, should be suspended pending a meeting with staff representatives to resolve the contentious issues causing industrial disharmony.

“We are not in any way opposed to certificate verifications but we do believe that due process should be followed and discussing the processes with the unions, we want the new General Manager to address workers and unfold his plans for the station.

“We give the new General Manger a seven-day ultimatum to restore organisational peace in the overall interest of the station,” the statement read in part.

The unions frowned at the arrest and detention of three union members by the General Manager at Ekeki Police station in Yenagoa on December 15, 2016 and advised him to use administrative channels within the government to address challenges in the station.

They observed that there were established procedures with the public service to deal with cases of incompetence and misconduct as the sanctions spelt out for such offences were clear.

“The unions are very displeased and unhappy with the resort to using police to address matters instead of using the administrative tools for discipline and sanctions spelt out by the public service rules.

“Equally worrisome is the resort to using social media to discuss problems facing the station rather than established formal channels of communications within the establishment,” the unions stated. However, in a reaction, the General Manager dismissed the allegations made by the staff unions and accused them of being used to sabotage the repositioning of the station.

Idumange said on Sunday that Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa appointed him to clean up the rot in the station adding that senior officials affected by ongoing reforms were using staff unions to resist reforms.

He said that allegations of arrest of three staff levelled against him were false as the said staff were taken to the Police station to make statements regarding the sale of a 350 KVA electricity generating set belonging to the station by the former General Manager.

Investigations showed that the former General Manager was invited by Ekeki Police Division to say what he knows about the missing industrial generator but Dickson was prevailed upon to give Lawson a soft landing by ensuring that the former General Manager went to the Police station with a government official who will take him on bail should the police decide to detain him.

Idumange vowed to go ahead with the proposed certificate verification exercise which is targetted at ensuring that employees were placed in areas related to their fields of study as well as fishing 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 doing certificate and staff verification on January 9, 2017.

“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 says the exercise must continue. The 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.

“The unions are instigated by the Heads of Department affected in the illegal recruitment, and those who came into that place thorough the back door, there are families where the father, mother and three children work in the station, it is unbelievable but true,” Idumange said.

Source: News Express

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