Olubadan intervenes in Oyo govt, labour row

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’Oyo may apply no-work no-pay rule from Tuesday’

•Olubadan wants workers to embrace dialogue

Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi has appealed to labour leaders to call off the ongoing strike to give room for dialogue.

Failure to heed the call, he said the state might be forced to apply the no-work no-pay rule after Tuesday.

The governor spoke during an interview with Government House correspondents after featuring on a live Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State television programme, Eyi Ara, in Ibadan, on Sunday.

Ajimobi maintained that the industrial action was ill-advised since labour had no dispute with the government prior to the strike nor gave the government any ultimatum in compliance with labour laws.

He said it had become imperative for the labour leaders to call off the strike to enable those he called the committed and hardworking among the workers to resume work.

But the governor said the labour leaders must be prepared to apologise for disrupting a stakeholders’ forum, where they were also invited to discuss a proposed public-private participatory management of public secondary schools.

His words: “I am appealing to them to imbibe the culture of dialogue. We want them to come because we are not quarreling with labour; we have no dispute that might warrant labour leaders to direct workers to embark on strike.

“We don’t have problem with them, except for some that are being politically motivated. It is just a few, who are using politics and are being influenced by failed politicians, who wants to get through the backdoor what they failed woefully to get from the ballot box.

“We are appealing to them to come and dialogue with us. It is the major ingredient of democracy. Consultation, participation, rule of law and peace – that is all we want. But anybody, who breaks the law, will be prosecuted. We may be forced to apply the no-work no-pay from Tuesday, if they ignore my appeal.”

Hailing workers for their tolerance and sacrifice in the face of delay in salary payment, the governor assured them that the situation would improve in the next few months when the result of the ongoing efforts to ameliorate the situation began to manifest.

The governor similarly appealed to pensioners to bear with the government, reminding workers and the senior citizens of how he was lauded and even given an award as the best pensioner-friendly governor, when there was sufficient fund to pay their dues.

He listed payment of 13th month salary for an unprecedented three consecutive years, salary increase on three occasions, local and overseas training, free bus shuttle, payment of salaries on or before the 25th of every month as some of the things he did for the workers before recession set in.

The governor said: “I am not happy with the situation we found ourselves, even though other states in the country, except Lagos and probably one other, are going through similar challenges of delay in payment of salaries and pensions.

“It is disheartening. I feel for them because I can’t imagine somebody working and not being paid. I also empathise with our senior citizens over the pension arrears. We will overcome these challenges because we are working hard to shore up our revenue base.

“We are plugging the loopholes and leakages at our revenue collection centres, because there is a lot of stealing going on. We are also increasing our tax net. And this is an opportunity for me to remind property owners to get prepared for the payment of tenement rate.”

On the education initiative, Ajimobi reassured the stakeholders that his administration had no plan to sell or privatise any of the 631 public secondary schools, stressing that the allegation was a figment of the imagination of some opponents of the government.

Also yesterday, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, appealed to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other labour unions in Oyo State to see reason with the state government and find a lasting solution to the on-going impasse in the interest of the common man.

Oba Adetunji made this call yesterday during the yearly Ramadan Tafsir at his Popoyemoja, Ibadan Palace.

A statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Adeola Oloko, quoted the monarch as saying that dialogue has been adjudged the best solution to crisis the world over.

He explained that violence doesn’t solve crisis but patience and understanding help in situations of misunderstanding.

The Olubadan called on the state government to look into the demands of the labour union and try to shift grounds where necessary, pointing out that life is a matter of give-and-take.

NLC: Govt’s directive an empty threat 

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the threat by Oyo State to open register of attendance for workers from today as “unexpected and a mere empty threat”.

NLC Chairman Comrade Waheed Olojede said this yesterday while addressing reporters at the union’s secretariat in Ibadan.

He directed workers to discountenance the announcement and should report to the NLC secretariat today for a mega rally.

Olojede said: “I wonder why the government that is still owing us six months outstanding salary can be making a threat when the ones we even worked for have not been paid.

“Our national body is involved in this strike and the state government has already made a bluff of themselves. We are ready to dialogue when the government is ready. We want them to know that our unlawful detention is condemned and they should withdraw the charges levelled against labour leaders.”

The union leader added that the national executive of NLC has received a formal invitation from the state House of Assembly for a meeting.

“Until our conditions are met by the state government, workers in the state will stay off work,” he said.