OYO State government and organised labour are trading words following a three-day warning strike by workers.
The government blamed labour for violating Section 43 (1) (a) of the Trade Dispute Act 2010, by failing to honour its invitation to resolve the dispute.
Labour, on its part, accused the government of peddling lies to cover up its shortcoming.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) announced a three-day warning strike on Tuesday.
The strike started yesterday, after expiration of a seven-day notice to the government last Wednesday.
Few workers turned up for work yesterday.
Most offices were deserted.
At some ministries, offices were open, but only a few workers were present.
Entrance to the secretariat were manned by policemen, with three patrol vans stationed in front of the gates.
Dissatisfied by labour’s reasons for the warning strike, the government, in a statement by Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Mr Olalekan Alli slammed the union for ignoring invitation for talks to resolve their grievances.
The government warned the workers not to abandon their duty posts, saying it would enforce a “no-work, no-pay” rule, in line with the Trade Dispute Act 2010 Section 43(1) (a).
The statement said: “The Oyo State government received a letter yesterday (January 23) from Labour, conveying its decision to embark on a three-day warning strike from January 24 to 26, on the following issues:
- alleged 17-month arrears of salaries of workers in the state’s tertiary institutions
- alleged 56-month arrears of pension and gratuity of retired primary school teachers, and
- sack of 256 workers of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital in Ogbomoso.”
He said the government invited labour leaders to a meeting, which they promised to attend at 4 pm yesterday, but did not attend.
State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Waheed Olojede said: “For the purpose of setting the records straight, the unions, last Wednesday (January 17), issued a seven-day strike notice to the government, which expired on Tuesday. They never responded, even after the last day. So, at the close of work on Tuesday, the union called a congress of the workers, where it declared a three-day warning strike, beginning on Wednesday (yesterday).
“It was on Wednesday, when the union received a letter from the government, inviting us to a meeting by 4 p.m. But we explained, through a letter to the government, that since the unions’ leaders do not live within Ibadan, the meeting slated for 4 p.m would be impossible. And we suggested that the meeting should come up at 12 noon on Thursday (today).”
The NLC described the government’s threat of “no work, no pay” as empty.
The government said it was doing everything humanly possible to make workers happy with the resources at its disposal.
It added: “Salaries and pensions of workers at the state level have been paid up till and including November 2017 with only one month salary and pension (December 2017) outstanding.
“By the laws setting up the tertiary institutions, government is not responsible for the payment of salaries of workers in those institutions. In order to assist them, government is ONLY obliged to grant the tertiary institutions subventions, which each institution would apply to whichever area of need that its Governing Council and Management may decide upon.
“The recent forensic audit reports on the tertiary institutions revealed a great deal of shortcomings such as inefficiencies, leakages, poor management, and other ineptitudes. Some institutions were even declared unsustainable and unviable. The consultant further recommended their closure. However, the recently constituted Governing Councils have been mandated to review their statuses and act suitably.
“Contrary to Labour’s allegation, although Government on assumption of office in 2011, inherited Local Government Pension arrears totalling N4,736,741,934.49, it is on record that Government has disbursed pensions and gratuity of retired primary school teachers to the tune of N11,729,534,282.54.
“Meanwhile, to avert further build up and eliminate the hardship arising therefrom, the Contributory Pension Scheme has been adopted as a solution to effectively address the issue.
“In view of the foregoing, and while dialogue continues, Government views the unilateral declaration of a 3-day warning strike by Labour as absolutely illegal, unwarranted and unjustifiable. Government hereby appeals to Labour to shelve its illegal unilateral industrial action.