By Ola Ajayi
Things, no doubt, have fallen apart within the ranks of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and the Joint Negotiating Council, JNC, in Oyo State as they are sharply divided over the strike that was recently called off.
While JNC, led by Mr. Emmanuel Ogundiran and Mr. Emelieze Andrew Uche led TUC are on one side, NLC is standing aloof like an eagle who has lost its power.
At the beginning of the strike, they were knit together like a Siamese twins, but after the last meeting where the strike was suspended, the unions are no longer speaking with one indivisible voice.
The state Chairman, NLC, Mr. Waheed Olojede called off the strike after a turbulent face-off which lasted almost three months and reached an agreement with the government on how the backlog of unpaid salaries would be settled.
While announcing suspension of the strike, Olojede said that they decided to call off the strike after government had agreed to pay two month salaries as soon as possible. He also said that government had prevailed on banks not to make loan deductions from the two months to be release.
But, the other two unions, TUC and JNC now see the NLC as a masquerade dancing alone in the market square. Both Ogundiran and Uche distanced themselves and members of the unions from the said agreement.
While speaking with Vanguard, Emmanuel Ogundiran said the clandestine meeting was an exercise in futility and it has clearly shown that the “government of the day is still undergoing tutelage in labour education” and wondered why the other two unions should be sidelined.
He said the strike was suspended when some of them travelled out of Ibadan.
According to him, it has shown the government does not know who it should be dealing with. He feels that it is better if all the unions could come together to fight the cause of the struggle. “There is a subsisting agreement between labour and government which was signed on 16 June, 2016 by the three unions. If you look at the current agreement that NLC signed with the government, it has basterdised the earlier agreement. “
“Some part of the NLC agreement states that there should be sacrifices on both sides. What type of sacrifice”, he said.
While complaining bitterly about alleged clandestine meeting, Mr. Emelieze Andrew, said, “you will recall that the Oyo State Government and the NLC entered into an unholy alliance by signing a satanic agreement that is inimical to industrial harmony in the state. The agreement is illegal, legitimate and unacceptable to the TUC.”
”We condemn it in strong term as we see the sophisticated and nonsensical resolution which allows government to sack workers and reduce workforce”.
The union leaders described the agreement as baseless and callous noting that “We at the TUC condemn the recent pronouncements by the state government to restrict the public service aimed at sacking workers in the state.”
He said, Governor Abiola Ajimobi should resign if the cannot pay workers’ salaries. In a statement signed by the TUC state Chairman and the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ilesanmi Lawrence, they said it was most unfortunate as the initial ultimatum lasted, the Oyo State Government did not deem it fit to consult with us, despite our correspondence to them. The government should know that any agreement signed without the inputs of other two unions is not acceptable. He gave the state government five extra days to settle all the salary arrears or face indefinite strike.
Vanguard also gathered that there is palpable fear among members of NLC and other two unions as the government hinted them that there would restructuring in the workforce.
It was further gathered that the said restructuring which is another coinage for retrenchment will be done any time from now.
As things are falling apart in the NLC, the centre is not holding between the primary and secondary school teachers. Some teachers in the public secondary schools have already formed an association tagged Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools indicating that they are moving away from the Nigeria Union of Teachers which comprises primary school teachers.