Bight Newspaper reports that Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that his administration was working towards cushioning the effects of the prevailing economic hardship in the country on workers in the state.

Senator Diri stated this on Tuesday while addressing chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Barnabas Simon, who led members on a nationwide protest to Government House, Yenagoa.

The governor assured that he would meet with the state’s Head of Service and the NLC chairman to discuss the modalities to reduce the working hours of civil servants in the state with a view to mitigating their plight.

While commending the NLC for peacefully carrying out the protest, he equally applauded the security agencies for allowing the protest to hold as it was a national directive to all Nigerian workers.

He said: “I want to assure that as a worker-friendly government from day one, we will consider the issues you have raised, particularly the reduction of man-hours of workers. I am going to dialogue with the Head of Service and the Bayelsa State NLC chairman and look at appropriate steps to reduce the working hours of our workforce.

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“The current economic situation has no boundaries. Workers are affected. The federal government and states are also affected. In all our projects, contractors are also asking for cost variation.”

The governor attributed the rising inflation in Nigeria to the monetary policy reforms of the federal government in allowing the floating of the country’s currency.

“The currency, as you know, is strictly for the federal government. State governments can only advice because issues concerning the currency are on the Exclusive List and the whole problem revolve around our currency.

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“I do believe that the president would not want to punish citizens of this country. I am sure that the federal government is also weighing the options of some of their policies. I believe that our president is a listening leader and he is going to do something.”

 

On the request for palliative, Senator Diri advised the NLC to rather work with the government to seek ways of stabilising the naira.

According to him, “today our currency has lost one of its basic functions, which is store of value, because on a daily basis, the naira depreciates. I advice the NLC chairman to ask for the restoration of the value of the naira, which is the number one thing. The moment that is done there will be no protest.”

The governor also urged workers to diversify their incomes by engaging in productive ventures such as farming and trading to augment their earnings.

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In his address, the state NLC Chairman, Comrade Barnabas Simon, said the removal of fuel subsidy was the death knell that brought about the prevailing economic woes.

He lamented the high cost of living due to the high inflation in the country as well as the soaring exchange rate of the dollar to the naira.

Comrade Simon demanded that interim measures be put in place to assuge the sufferings of workers, which include reduction of man-hours of workers and provision of palliative to cushion the effect.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the NLC to supporting government in driving good policies for workers, adding that it will reject further impoverishment of the workforce.

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