Half pay: Workers begin strike, shut down secretariat

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Aregbesola

Labour leaders and civil servants led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Osun State, Mr. Tunde  Adekomi, on Wednesday started an indefinite strike to protest the plan by Governor Rauf Aregbesola to pay them half salaries.

The protesters, who shut down the State Secretariat at Abere, wondered why the state government could not pay the workers their full pay after collecting N6.3bn being the third tranche of the Paris Club loan refund from the Federal Government.

Labour leaders had last Friday announced that they would begin an indefinite strike immediately after the Christmas break to protest payment of modulated salary, lack of promotion and the non-remittance of their contributory pension deductions to the workers’ pension accounts.

The NLC chairman, the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr. Amudah Wakeel and other labour leaders stormed the secretariat gate as early as 7am on Wednesday to ensure compliance to the directive from the labour leaders.

Some of the labour leaders were seen displaying placards with inscriptions rejecting half salary and no promotion in the state civil service.

They claimed that they had been subjected to serious hardship since the regime of half salary started in 2015.

The NUT chairman, who spoke to our correspondent, said workers from grade level 01 to 07 who were collecting full salary joined the strike because the action was not based on the issue of half salary alone.

He expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance to the strike directive which he described as a total action.

Wakeel said, “We are on strike in Osun. We are here at the State Government Secretariat, Abere, to ensure a total compliance to the strike directive.

“As you can see, no worker came to resume work today because they are our members and the labour directed that they should stay at home.

“The labour is indivisible, that is why those who are collecting full salaries also complied. The strike is not even about half salary alone. The issue of promotion is there, pension is there, and are you saying those from level 1 to 7 will not retire in the future?

“The compliance is total and we are happy about it. Nobody can divide us. The labour is one indivisible family whether you are on level one, 13 or any level.”

The Osun State Joint Public Service Negotiating Councils later issued a statement signed by the NLC chairman, Mr. Tunde Adekomi; the Chairman, SJPSNC, Bayo Adejumo and the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Bowale Adekola, among other union leaders.

The statement read, “Sequel to the commencement of the industrial action declared by labour with effect from Wednesday 27, December 2017, all workers are enjoined to comply with the directive not minding the empty threat from the government to divide workers.

“The reason for the declaration of the strike is not limited to salary issue alone but includes issues of promotion, advancement, confirmation, annual increment, contributory pension scheme and gratuity, which cut across all categories of workers in the state.

“In view of the above, all workers should stay at home until further directives from the labour movement in the state.”

The workers had during their last meeting with Aregbesola insisted that the state had the financial ability to pay them full salaries.

They said most of them  had been collecting half salaries since September 2015 and the governor still did not want to change this even after collecting N6.3bn as the third tranche of the Paris Club loan refund.

Meanwhile, the Osun State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, has said in a statement that the state government is confident that the strike will not last beyond today (Wednesday) because stakeholders are discussing with the workers on the strike issue.

The statement  partly read, “Men of noble character, citizens of the state are getting involved and are engaging the labour too, trying to make them see reasons why the industrial dispute should be resolved in the interest of the state and the people in general.

“The Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has always been very clear about his tendencies on the welfare of the workers, and this he has been doing since he came on board in 2010. What the workers did not ask, the governor had given them when the going was good; when government had resources.

“Unfortunately, some vandals who found themselves at the helm of affairs in the Federal Government ran the country into economic recession. And therefore, things became difficult financially for the Osun State Government, and that is the reason why quite a number of ingenious things had to be done, including putting modulated salary in place so that workers and pensioners would go home with something at the end of the month.”

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