By Ihechinyere Chigemeri-Uwom
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has announced an extension of teachers’ retirement age and years of service by five years.
He announced this during Monday’s celebration of the 2023 Workers’ Day, with the theme, “Workers rights and socioeconomic justice”, in Umuahia.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr Onyii Wamah, said that the retirement age had been extended from 60 years to 65 years and years of service from 35 to 40 years.
He said that the implementation of the new policy would take effect from next week.
Ikpeazu said that the state government remained committed to improving the welfare of workers and would address all issues pertaining to their salary arrears.
He said that in line with improving the welfare of civil servants, the government had approved a 2,000 housing units scheme for them to meet their housing needs.
He said the government also set up a committee to produce the Minimum Wage Salary scale for civil servants.
In a speech, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Chief Pascal Nweke, described the theme of the event as apt, adding that it clearly states the desires of the average worker.
Nweke said that it was disheartening that the issue of nonpayment of salary arrears, leave allowance, pension and gratuity had remained unresolved, with the present administration winding down.
According to him, Abia workers are experiencing untold hardship as a result of the unpaid salary arrears.
He appealed to the state government to initiate measure to ameliorate the sufferings of workers and pensioners.
Also, the state Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, called on the incoming administration to show increased commitment to workers’ welfare by demonstrating genuine empathy to their affairs.
Eneogwe urged political office holders to fulfill the campaign promises they made to Abia workers.
“This would boost workers’ productivity as well as foster growth and development in the state,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the event, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, commended workers for their resilience and dedication to duty, in spite of the current economic hardship and poor work environment.
Ogbonnaya expressed dismay over the nonpayment of salaries in the state, adding that “it is a crime against humanity to owe workers’ salary”.
He, therefore, urged the government to urgently do the needful.
He further charged workers to develop personal retirement plan while in service to tackle the financial uncertainty that usually affected retirees due to the nonpayment of gratuities and irregular payment of pension.
“I am urging you to disengage from wasteful venture, invest in your children and build your own house.
“Make yourself an entrepreneur, take it one step at a time,” Ogbonnaya said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ceremony featured march past and presentation of awards.