By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
The hope of having early resolution to the on-going indefinite strike embarked upon by the civil servants in Oyo State was dashed on Thursday as Labour leaders informed the striking workers that Governor Abiola Ajimobi said there was no money “to pay up at least three month out of the over six months outstanding salaries” owed by the state government.
Briefing the workers on the outcome of the Labour leaders peace parley with Governor Ajimobi on Wednesday, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Deputy Presidents, Comrades Kiri Mohammed and Peters Adeyemi said Governor Ajimobi declined the union’s request “to pay up at least three month out of the over six months outstanding salaries”,
Comrade Kiri told the striking workers at the Congress held at the state NLC secretariat that the governor reportedly said Oyo State “did not have the capacity to grant such request”, and that, “owing to the governor’s stand, the labour leaders requested for an adjournment to consider the next option”.
“Afterwards, we reconvened to request that two months be paid immediately, rather than the earlier three months request, but Governor Ajimobi, again, maintained that the state did not have enough funds to venture into such payment, and that even the payment of one month salary was challenging,” he said.
According to the NLC Deputy President, “at this point, our meeting came to an end and that was why we promise him that we will brief our members and get back to the state government.”
“We demanded the immediate payment of three months out of the outstanding arrears. The governor said he had no money to pay such. Considering what he said, we requested that two months be paid. He also said that there were no funds for that. Even, he said money was not adequate to pay for a month.”
Speaking further, the NLC leaders disclosed that the union made headway in their first demand as Governor Ajimobi assured them that the charges in court against labour leaders in the state would be vacated.
Concerning the planned private partnership of some secondary schools in Oyo State, the labour leaders said Governor Ajimobi insisted that the intention of the state government was misinterpreted as the government never intended to handover the public schools to the private sector.
“On the privatization of schools, the governor maintained that he was misinterpreted. That he never had the intention to handover private schools to private sector. So we said so as to be comfortable, we want to have a formal document to show that he had rescinded the decision but the governor requested that a committee be set up to look at the issue. He said there has to be committee composed on seven persons representing labour and another seven persons representing government to look at how the new education policy is to evolve”.
Comrade Kiri pointed out that the labour leaders then hinted the governor that the strike would continue indefinitely, saying, “we told the governor that it was difficult to ask the workers to return to work without payment of outstanding salaries”.
According to him, “the congress then resolved that since the governor said that funds were not adequate to pay salaries, the strike should continue until workers are paid”.
“Workers want to eat, they can’t go to office hungry, they want to pay their debts, they need transport fares to go to their offices. How can workers live perpetually on hunger and perpetually on debt? So, we decided that the strike continues indefinitely until salaries are paid. It is the obligation of the employer to pay workers salaries so he must find a way to pay the salaries. We worked for six months, we must be paid”.
After the briefing, the workers agreed with their leaders and resolved to continue their indefinite strike.
Oyo crises: Gov says “no money to pay” at least 3 of the over 6months outstanding salaries …strike continues – NLC
By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.