By Ngozi Onyeakusi — Workers in Ondo State have threatened to embark on strike effective Tuesday, November 13, if the state government failed to pay their outstanding salaries and emoluments.
The labour unions, in their letter addressed to the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, alleged that the governor had not been sincere in the administration of the N20 billion Paris Club refunds from the Federal Government.
Specifically, the State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Tayo Ogunleye; the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Soladoye Ekundayo, and the Chairman, Joint Negotiating Council, JNC, Abel Oloniyo, charged the governor in the said letter to commit the refunds mainly to the payment of the backlog of workers’ salaries and other entitlments.
The organized labour groups accused the governor of reneging on his earlier agreement with the labour unions to consult them on the Paris Club refunds.
They stated: “We believe that negotiation and agreement with labour was the key criteria of how the fund was released despite that the fund has been released to the state without consulting labour.
“We humbly refer your Excellency to the agreement between labour and the state government before the suspension of our industrial action of 30th June 2016.
“Furthermore, we want to draw the attention of His Excellency to the recommendations of a committee on payment of six-month arrears of salary to Ondo State workers set up by the state government that was submitted to your Excellency in May 2017.
“We also hold that the said agreement subsists between labour and the government of Ondo State irrespective of who mounts the mantle of leadership particular when the State Head of Service remain the signatory to both the agreement and the committee report.
“In view of the above, we call on the government to please pay in line with our agreement as analysed in our letter under reference on or before 12 noon Tuesday 13th of November, 2018.
“Failure on the part of government to accede to our request, we may not be able to guarantee industrial peace by resuming our suspended strike of 30th June, 2016”, the unions maintained.
The commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi, was quoted as saying that the funds just got to government coffers only last week and that the government was “open to negotiations”.
While noting that the workers have always commended the governor for his good policies that have improved the welfare of civil servants, Owolabi promised that “the governor will not do anything that will create any misunderstanding with the organized labour in the state.
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