By GBENGA ARIYIBI ADO EKITI
Ekiti State council workers under the umbrella of Nigeria Union of Local Government, NULGE, yesterday declared an indefinite strike over the inability of the state government to pay the N19,000 minimum wage.
The aggrieved workers carried placards of various inscriptions including; ‘Fayemi must pay our minimum wage’, ‘Enough is enough’, ‘Mr Governor should address the issue of minimum wage’, ‘Fayemi should stop diverting the council funds’.
Meantime, the state government has expressed dismay that a section of NULGE members has succumbed to cheap blackmail by allowing themselves to be used by some disgruntled politicians to disturb the existing peace in the state under the leadership of governor Kayode Fayemi.
A statement from the office of the state’s Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Apalara Wole-Adewumi, however, warned the leadership of NULGE to stop any further protest as government cannot be intimidated through any act that could lead to the breach of public peace.
Speaking on the strike, President of NULGE, Ekiti State, Comrade Dele Ajayi, the National Treasurer, Comrade Oluyemi Esan and Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Ekiti, Comrade Ayodeji Aluko, told the workers who trooped out in their numbers that they would do everything to ensure that the minimum wage is paid to the council workers.
They expressed displeasure at the way the Local Government workers were being deprived of the minimum wage while other categories of workers in the state have been enjoying the new salary since May this year.
His words: “Before coming up with this position, the union has taken due process by intimating the government with various communications on the issue of minimum wage and gave 21 days ultimatum, followed by 14 days, seven days and finally three days which lapsed 11.59p.m. yesterday. Since nothing positive has been heard from government, I hereby invoke the power vested on me by the constitution of our great union by declaring a trade dispute via an indefinite strike.”
The state government, however, stated that it is on record that the leadership of NULGE and government representatives agreed on a meeting slated for 1p.m. on 11th September, 2012 following the notice of three-day ultimatum but the union backed out of the meeting even without notice.
“In spite of this unfortunate development, government is still ready to accede to the legitimate requests of NULGE.