By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Effective from tomorrow Tuesday, workers in both Osun and Oyo states Civil Service are to stay off duty and commence indefinite strike, in accordance with a directive by the national leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The labour unions in Osun have been having a running battle with the state government, threatening to embark on strike for some time now to force Governor Rauf Aregbesola to settle their six months backlog of unpaid salaries.
But the workers formally declared on Monday that it would begin the strike by tomorrow to press home their demands.
Also in Oyo, the NLC chairman in the state, Comrade Waheed Olojede, said the workers in the state would also commence strike tomorrow.
A special congress was held in Ibadan at the union’s office where a directive to that effect was sent across. Olojede who briefed the press after the congress said inasmuch as the directive was from the union’s national headquarters, the position of the law establishing the NLC ensured that they should comply with the directive of the national leadership.
He revealed further that the leadership of the state NLC was up till last Friday engaged in negotiation with the state government over how workers’ accumulated salary and the arrears of pension would be defrayed, pointing out that immediately a memorandum of understanding on the payment of the money is signed, the NLC national leadership would be appealed to, to allow the state NLC call off the strike.
“Until the Memorandum of Understanding is acceptable to both the state NLC and government is signed, sealed and delivered, the strike will go on. We appeal to our colleagues to remain calm and be peaceful in their conduct while they await further directive from our national leadership which will be passed to them the moment we receive such directive,” he said.
“We urge all workers in the employment of the state to continue to stay at home until we receive a directive from our national leadership to call off the strike after the MOU that is mutually acceptable to both the government and us is duly signed and sealed.
“We hope the state government will show an understanding as we continue to negotiate over the unpaid salary for the workers and the pensioners’ arrears of pension.”
In a swift reaction to the development, the state government through the Commissioner for Information, Prince Gbade Lana, said the workers were just obeying the directives from the national body of the NLC.
He pointed out that the workers are embarking on the strike not because of non-payment of salaries by the state government.
“The strike has nothing to do with the state government. We are owing only two months. We had discussions with workers. We are about to reach a compromise before the strike began. It is just the directive from the national body of the workers’ union,” the commissioner said.
He, however, advised workers to stay at home until NLC calls off the strike, maintaining that a worker who trekked kilometres to work could not be productive while at work.
“Workers should stay at home. What productivity do you expect from someone that trekked a long distance,” he queried.
However, the situation at secretariat premises, the seat of state government, remained calm by as the time of filing this report, while government reaction was being awaited.
Investigations by WP showed that the state government is owing its staff and pensioners more than three months salary and between five and eleven months pension arrears respectively.