By Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA—The face-off between Kogi State government and labour union heightened yesterday, as the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, warned workers not to embark on strike or they would lose their jobs.
Labour, however, vowed to continue with the proposed industrial action on Friday, saying there was no going back.
The SSG, last Friday, reportedly warned the workers that the state government will mete out same treatment given to striking lecturers of Kogi State University, KSU, if they participated in the upcoming industrial action.
It will be recalled that over 100 striking KSU lecturers had been issued sack letters by management of the institution on the instruction of the state government.
However, the leadership of organised labour, in a statement yesterday, by Olakunle Faniyi and Kolawole James, secretaries of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, respectively, said they remained undaunted by government’s threats and intimidation.
They said: “As predicted, government has begun its antics of threats and intimidation of workers, brandishing the weapons of sack and the over-used but ineffective ‘no-work-no-pay’ slogan, all of which have no place in any civilised setting.
“As we all know, whoever is down does not fear a fall. This government has brought workers down to the lowest level and as such we fear neither fall of sack nor non-payment of salary.
“We encourage you to discountenance all the threats and intimidation being dished out by the officers of this government and remain focused and determined to carry this struggle to its logical conclusion. Be resolute and defend your jobs now or never.
“We are resolute in saying no to the casualisation of the Kogi State workforce through the clock-in-clock-out policy, we reject, completely, the attempt of government to use a hoarse contributory pension scheme to further impoverish workers, and we insist that government pay workers/pensioners who have been denied salaries/pensions for the past 21 months and other categories of arrears ranging from two to 13 months and we demand the stoppage of percentage payment of salaries to primary school teachers and local government workers.”
Kogi govt responds
Responding, the government through its Director General, Media and Publicity, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, urged labour not to truncate the running of government in the state.
Fanwo said: “As a government, we have no issue with organised labour in the state. They need to reappraise and reassess their stance on some issues.
“We have not made our position known on the letter they wrote to us. At the appropriate time, we shall make an official statement on the issue.
“We urge civil servants and members of the public to go about their legitimate businesses as government will do everything possible and legal to provide the right environment for civil servants that are willing to work.”