Labour leaders in Oyo State have been advised to embrace dialogue and consultation instead of issuing threats and ultimatum of strike, as stakeholders brainstorm on how to bail the state out of its financial predicament.
The leader of the government representatives in the ongoing dialogue with labour, Mr. Ismael Olalekan Alli, who is a former Secretary to the State Government, gave the advice in a statement, on Saturday. The labour was led to the truce meeting by the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Waheed Olojede.
He, however, said that the labour leaders used the opportunity of a meeting with the government representatives to apologise to the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, on Friday, having realized that they acted contrary to the letter and spirit of a subsisting agreement.
The labour leaders had on Tuesday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government within when they said the governor should meet with the workers representatives and fashion out modalities of defraying a five-month arrears of salaries owed workers.
Alli said: “At the meeting (on Friday) the state government reaffirm its compliance with the subsisting agreement with labour whereby 90 per cent of allocation from the Federation Account is devoted to payment of salaries and wages of workers on monthly basis.
“The government also observed that the present conduct of labour is at variance and in total disregard for due process, labour law and practice. In view of the foregoing the government believes that the labour centres are being insensitive and confrontational.
“However, the labour leaders denied the allegations and apologized accordingly. It further assured the government of its cooperation and maintenance of industrial harmony in the state.”
The former SSG said that the apology has been accepted by the government and the governor has consequently directed that the subsisting agreement be adhered to pending the exploration by the government and labour of further avenues to improve the revenue of the state.
According to him, the labour leaders painstakingly explained and apologized for the misunderstanding occasioned by their ultimatum, denying any attempt to ridicule the governor or imperil the pervading industrial harmony in the state.
He said that both parties agreed to explore regular consultations, dialogue and due process as they jointly seek solutions to the poor position of the state’s finance, which was blamed for the five-month salary arrears owed the workers.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that a consultative committee comprising labour and government representatives has been set up to harmonise the current available revenue allocation and to recommend the best way forward in the face of the state’s dwindling revenue.
Alli said that the Friday meeting reached a consensus that the 10-month-old agreement between labour and government subsists and that the government had no intention of reneging on any term of the said agreement.
In the spirit of collective responsibility, he stated that both parties also agreed to collaborate and evolve ways of blocking all financial leakages in the system with a view to jacking up the internally generated revenue of the state.
Alli said: “That all financial leakages need to be jointly and urgently plugged by employing strategies including elimination of ghost workers from the salary bill of our workers as well as identification, arrest and prosecution of fraudsters within the system.
“That a more positive and creative disposition is critical for turning around these times of adversity. It was resolved that all concerned should have learnt some lessons after this brief period of unnecessary and avoidable altercation.”