By Adebowale A-Oluwaseun

For the second day, hundreds of workers in the service of Ondo State Government on Wednesday thronged the premises of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) in Akure, Ondo State capital, in protest.
The workers picketed the bank over an alleged withholding of funds that should have been used to pay workers salaries for the month of January.
The workers had matched from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Secretariat located within Alagbaka to the head-office of the bank with placards bearing different inscriptions.

Some workers protesting outside one of the Banks.
Some workers protesting outside one of the Banks.
They latter divided themselves into groups to make sure that all the branches of the bank were affected by their actions.
They mobilised their colleagues from all ministries, parastatals and agencies to ensure that they completely occupy and shut down the bank’s branches and drove away its prospective customers from within and outside the state.
The angry workers, led by the state chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNC), Com SundayAdeleye, called on the authorities of the bank to resolve its differences with the state government so that their salaries could be paid.
While speaking with our correspondent, Adeleye said the peaceful protest was due to the delay in the payment of January salary, which he said was traced to the GTB not allowing the state government access to the Staff Matters Accounts to pay the salary because of a loan agreement entered into with the state government in 2008.
He said the workers were irked by the development, which he regretted was as result of the insensitivity of the authorities of the bank.
“Ondo State workers took a loan that was initiated by the state government from GTB in 2008 and government is the guarantor.
“When the workers defaulted, the bank decided to debit the money from the state government’s account with the bank.  We did not know the terms and conditions of that loan as it was done between government and the bank.
“The loan is to be repaid within 48-month. GTB wrote to the state government to extend this loan by six month. Labour resisted their plan to extend it by six months as a result they withheld our salary.

The unhappy workers with different placards.
The unhappy workers with different placards.
“We met with state government that if they fail to settle the issue with the GTB, workers would picket GTB and whatever breach of negotiation or agreement is between them and the state government. Our major concern is to get our salary.”
The JNC chairman said if the bank had problem with the state government it should fight government and not with our salary.
Adeleye, however, vowed that the leadership of JNC, NLC and TUC would totally ground activities of the bank in the state by forcing government to withdraw from the bank if it fails to reverse its decision.
Speaking with our correspondent on the development, Operation Manager of GTB, Kehinde Oyeleke, expressed surprise that “We do not have any labour dispute and there is no prior notification to this protest, they have not written to us that they have any problem with us.
“We do not pay salary to Ondo State workers because their salary is paid from another bank. All that I can say is that they decided to protest against the transaction that was signed legally with Ondo State Government but not being honoured. We do not have problem with labour unions in the state.”
In the meantime, the leadership of the workers, government officials and the management of the bank have been meeting to ensure that the situation is brought under control.

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