Osun State workers on Wednesday commenced an indefinite strike. The workers are protesting the incomplete payment of workers’ salaries and other allowances.
Osun has been paying workers between 50 and 100 per cent of their salaries for over one year.
On Wednesday, the workers led by the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Osun, Jacob Adekomi, shut down the state secretariat at Abere, Osogbo.
The workers barricaded the secretariat complex from about 7 a.m., PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Amudah Wakeel, told PREMIUM TIMES that even junior workers who had been receiving all their salaries are in support of the strike.
“We are here at the State Government Secretariat, Abere, to guarantee an aggregate consistence to the strike mandate,” he said.
“No staff came to continue work today since they are our individuals.
“The strike isn’t even about half pay alone. The issue of advancement is there, annuity is there and would you say you are stating those from level 1 to 7 won’t resign later on?
‘Workers are one unbreakable family whether you are on level one, 13 or any level,” he said.
The state government has responded to the workers strike.
The Osun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Adelani Baderinwa, released the statement below in response to the strike.
Strike is a legitimate means for workers to press home their demands. We have had series of discussions on how to avert the strike. I will like to state that far reaching decisions have been taken but it is yet to transform into absolute agreement; that is why the strike is taken place today.
I am very confident that the strike may not go beyond today.
The discussions and decisions are based on logic and analysing issues and pointing out fundamentals within the issues involved to each other, and the need to let each other realize why it should be in their (workers) own way and the government felt it should be seen in its own perspective. Basically, those are the issues in context in all the engagement. And may I add that 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 resolved in the interest of the state and the people in general.
The Governor, 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 helms of affairs in the Federal Government ran the country into economic recession. And therefore, things became difficult financially for the government of the state of Osun, and that is the reason 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. That is the essence of modulated salary: everybody that worked and working for the state would go home with money every month.
Since the agreement was reached, the government has been struggling to pay the agreed amount every month with the fact that the workers being owed 50 per cent and 25 per cent would be paid back later. The government has demonstrated that when the Paris Club refund came some time ago with the payment of July and August 2015 arrears. Government is determined to ensure that there is payment of whatever arrears being owed in respect of level 8-12 workers who are being owed 25 per cent and level 13 and above who are being owed 50 per cent when the finances of the state get better. Level 1-7 which constitute 72 per cent of the workforce of the state are not owed anything. It is just the 28 per cent that the government owes 25 and 50 per cent arrears. And the government is committed to pay it back. As I speak with you, what is outstanding in terms of modulated salary payment is that of December 2017 salary.
For the promotion matter, I remember that the governor had explained in a meeting held with labour leaders some days ago that it does not make sense to do promotion for workers without backing it up with money, and the governor pleaded with them that he is very sure that the end is near for the financial crisis and there is light at the end of the tunnel and that very soon, we will begin to smile again. I must add that the governor’s statement is not unfounded because there has been a gradual rise in the cost of crude oil in the international market which if it continues like that, it will assure more money into the purse of the federal government and indeed the state government. Therefore, there is likelihood we return to good old days where workers do not need to ask for anything before the government of Aregbesola does it for them.