By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Following the unresolved impasse over the alleged seventeen month salaries and arrears owned the government-owned tertiary institutions in Oyo State, workers in the employ of the Oyo State Government will on Wednesday embark on a three-day warning strike.
The directive for the workers to withdraw their services was issued by the joint section of the State-Executive Councils of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) after a meeting which held at the Labour House, Agodi, the State Secretariat of the NLC.
The labour leaders said the three days warning strike is to demand that the state government addresses the 13 weeks old strike of the state-owned tertiary institutions, the sack of 256 members of staff of Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, lingering complaints of workers in the health sector as presented by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
Other issues that prompted the strike are the issues of unpaid pensions and gratuities of retired primary school teachers accumulating to 56 months and stall in workers’ promotion since 2010.
Olojede, who spoke alongside Chairman, JNC/TUC, Mr Emmanuel Ogundiran, and JAC executives of the tertiary institutions, said the state government had shown continued insensitivity to the plight of workers of the state’s tertiary institutions who were owed 17 months salaries.
He asked the state government to rescind its decision to sack 256 members of staff of LAUTECH teaching hospital, lamenting what he described as the woes, hardship and state of the hopelessness of the sacked workers.
He added that the workers were directed to stay at home in solidarity with their other affected workers to include those working in the service of local government owed salaries.
Speaking further Olojede prayed that the state government urgently attends to the issues to avert further industrial actions.
A letter sent to the governor notifying him of the resolution on the strike read, “While reviewing and assessing labour issues in the state, the state executive councils (SECs) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) at their joint meeting of Monday January 22, 2018 viewed with utmost dismay, the continued insensitivity of Oyo state government to the plight of our members in government-owned tertiary institutions who are owed up to 17 months arrears of salaries and retired primary school teachers who are owed 56 months pension and also not paid any gratuity since this government came to power. Equally is the sack of 256 members of JOHESU in LAUTECH teaching hospital, Ogbomoso, and other issues contained in our letter under reference.
“Premised on the foregoing, the SECs-in-session of NLC, TUC and JNC resolved to direct their members in the public/civil of Oyo state to withdraw their services and embark on three days warning strike from Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th January 2018.”
The four paragraphed letter entitled: “Re: Unresolved Industrial Issues in Oyo State Public/Civil Service” was jointly signed by, NLC State Secretary, Mr Kofo Ogundeji; TUC State Secretary, Mr Falegbe Mayowa and JNC Assistant State Secretary, Mr Olabode Akinfenwa.
Recounting the various efforts made by the Labour leaders to resolve the matter but which yielded no result, NLC State Chairman, Comrade Waheed Olojede said the Unions had written several letters and made attempts to seek the understanding of the government but to no avail.
He said, “Workers in the state-owned tertiary institutions have been on strike since November 2, 2017, and their matters have not been addressed up to date. We had two separate meetings with government and they yielded no result hence the people remain on indefinite strike. We have written series of letters to the government to give reasons why 100 percent salary payment should be granted to workers in tertiary institutions.
“That led to a meeting with government on 7th of November 2017 led by the Secretary to the State Government demanding that a separate committee is put in place to look critically into the issue of administration of workers and the labour movement and labour was asked to send representatives to be members of that committee.
“When labour waited for long, and no action came from government, we demanded another meeting which led to another meeting held on 9th of January 2018 but the meeting ended not producing the desired result. And that shows that government appears to be insensitive to the plight of workers in tertiary institutions in the state.
“And so desired is our understanding of the fact that an injury to one is an injury to all, if today workers in the tertiary institutions are suffering this kind of hardship from the government, it should attract the attention of the entire labour movement. Moreso, a lot of other issues remain unresolved by the labour movement in the state.
“Aside from the issue of tertiary institutions, about 256 workers of LAUTECH teaching hospital were also sacked. Today, the entire labour movement frowns at any sack of any worker in the state. Nigeria today is bedeviled by the high rate of unemployment so it is an aberration for any employer of labour, whether public or private, to send people back into the world of unemployment. And we have held series of meeting with the government to consider returning those sacked workers back to work.
“On 25th July 2016, there was an agreement between labour and government over promotion of workers in the state that has been long overdue and we agreed in a communiqué that the issue will be addressed. Up till now, the government has not addressed this issue.
“As a result of all these issues, the executive of all labour centres in the state have resolved that the best is to tell the government that we are unhappy with the experiences of workers in the state tertiary institutions and at LAUTECH teaching hospital. And we have directed that all workers must show their solidarity and put the government on its toes that all other demands unattended to be addressed. That is why workers are directed to stay off work for the next three days effective from Wednesday, January 24, 2017. That is the first warning strike to government and to show that all is not well with workers, especially those in those sectors.”