Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Following a three-day warning strike embarked on by workers in Oyo State, the state government has urged workers not to absent themselves from duty, saying it would apply the no-work, no-pay rule according to the Trade Dispute Act 2010 Section 43(1)(a).
Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, gave the directives in a statement he issued, in Ibadan, on Wednesday, saying the state government viewed the strike as absolutely illegal, unwarranted and unjustifiable.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) the state had directed all workers in the state to embark on a three-day warning strike from Wednesday. The NLC chairman in the state, Mr. Waheed Olojede, and his counterpart in JNC/TUC, Mr Emmanuel Ogundiran, both addressed journalists in Ibadan.
The decision to embark on the solidarity warning strike was taken after a meeting held at the Labour House, Agodi, Ibadan, on Tuesday, to pressurise the state government under the leadership of Governor Ajimobi to reconsider hus decision over the sacked 256 members of staff of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital in Ogbomoso, reduction of subventions to the tertiary institutions owned by the state and other sundry issues.
Daily Sun’s visit to the government secretariat showed that the workers obeyed the sit-at-home order, though some of them had reported for duty on Wednesday before they heard about the strike, and they returned home.
But the state government said it received a letter January 23, 2018 from labour leaders, conveying its decision to embark on a three-day warning strike from 24th – 26th January, 2018 on issues bordering on alleged 17-month arrears of salaries of workers in the state’s tertiary institutions, alleged 56-month arrears of pension and gratuity of retired primary school teachers, and sack of 256 members of staff of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso.
Alli stated that on receipt of the letter, government invited the labour leaders to a meeting, “which Labour promised to attend at 4pm on Tuesday. Despite our agreement, Labour failed to attend the scheduled meeting.”
The government, according to him, has consistently honoured its obligations to the labour “by ensuring monthly salaries are paid from the 100 per cent FAAC allocation to the state and the Budget Support Fund, including over 70 per cent of other receivables (Excess Crude and Paris Club Reimbursement despite the Federal Government advice of 50 per cent payment therefrom for salaries)
“Government has also been fulfilling its other responsibilities, commitments and functions, using other resources such as IGR, Credits and Grants at its disposal to satisfy the yearnings of the people as would be expected.
“Salaries and pensions of workers at the state level have been paid up till and including November 2017 with only one month salary and pension (December 2017) outstanding.
“By the laws setting up the tertiary institutions, government is not responsible for the payment of salaries of workers in those institutions. In order to assist them, government is only obliged to grant the tertiary institutions subventions, which each institution would apply to whichever area of need that its governing council and management may decide upon.
“The recent forensic audit reports on the tertiary institutions revealed a great deal of shortcomings, such as inefficiencies, leakages, poor management, and other ineptitudes. Some institutions were even declared unsustainable and unviable. The consultant further recommended their closure. However, the recently constituted governing councils have been mandated to review their statuses and act suitably.
“Contrary to labour’s allegation, although government on assumption of office in 2011, inherited local government pension arrears, totalling N4,736,741,934.49, it is on record that government has disbursed pensions and gratuity of retired primary school teachers to the tune of N11,729,534,282.54.
“Meanwhile, to avert further build-up and eliminate the hardship arising therefrom, the contributory pension scheme has been adopted as a solution to effectively address the issue.
“In view of the foregoing, and while dialogue continues, government views the unilateral declaration of a 3-day warning strike by labour as absolutely illegal, unwarranted and unjustifiable. Government hereby appeals to labour to shelve its illegal unilateral industrial action.
“Similarly, government enjoins all workers in the state not to absent themselves from duty, as doing so will attract the no-work no-pay rule according to the Trade Dispute Act 2010 Section43(1)(a).”