July 31, 2023

Update: Oyo workers barricade govt secretariat over deductions, palliatives, allowances

Oyo workers

Workers and the labour leaders at the entrance to the secretariat.

By Adeola Badru, Ibadan

The entry and exit gates to the Oyo State secretariat, Ibadan, were locked by the labour centres in the state in protest over payment of salary deductions, palliatives for workers and upward review of pension allowances.

The civil servants, who hoped to resume work on Monday morning, met locked gates, with the union leaders insisting that they only want Governor Seyi Makinde, and no government official, to address their demands.

Participating in the protest are workers and pensioners on the platforms of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and their affiliates.

Led by their union leaders, the workers are also demanding payment of leave bonus, payment of gratuities to retirees who have been stagnated since the year 2021 and release of promotion letters for the Year 2021 and 2022.

While speaking with Vanguard, Chairman of TUC, Bosun Olabiyi, outlined some of their agitations, saying failure of the government to remit deductions from their salaries for cooperatives, and other statutory commitments, among other concerns in the face of current economic hardship caused by fuel subsidy removal necessitated the protest.

He also argued that various attempts to discuss with the governor to resolve some of their agitations had been unfruitful as the government had continued to abuse the rules of engagement.

Also speaking, the NLC chairman the state, Kayode Martins, said the state organised labour union had been misrepresented in its dialogue with the government, hence the need to have an understanding with the governor in person to resolve their agitations.

Govt reacts

In a swift reaction, the state government has requested for an exhaustive dialogue on the issue of salary with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state.

A statement made available to newsmen by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said only three months and not six months deductions are owed workers.

The commissioner added that every state in the federation owes workers salary deductions and the three months owed by Oyo State is the least.

Oyelade stated in the statement that the NLC had, over the years, shown that they are in support of the present administration in the state.

He attributed the support to good governance, and asked the Labour leadership to reflect on the disposition of government to workers’ welfare.

“While the July salaries have been paid in Oyo State, not less than 20 states, including Ondo, Plateau, Benue and Bayelsa are owing several months of salaries in arrears.

“Several more, including neighbouring states, are owing months of deduction arrears,” Oyelade stated in the statement.

He also said while the state government started the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage three years ago, many states are still struggling to pay the old wage.

“While it is the right and entitlement of our workers to access their wages, especially at this tough time, government implores them to reflect on the sincerity of purpose of this administration.

“Despite the challenges of paying wages, over 2,000 civil servants have been promoted, while almost 1,000 others have been converted to regular service.

“For the records, Oyo State pays N7.3bn monthly as salaries, yet collects N5bn as Federal Allocation.

“Because of this, all the N2.8bn raked in as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) are ploughed back literally to service salaries,” it was stated in the statement.

Oyelade said government deserved a pat on the back: “If in spite of this tightrope, government still embarks on such magnitude of infrastructural projects, that even the NLC has applauded numerously.”

“Eminent pundits, including the current Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki have predicted that no state will be able to pay salaries by the end of June this year.

“This is because of the worsening shape of the economy. But Oyo State, due to the deft husbanding of the state resources by Governor Seyi Makinde, has defied the doomsday prediction.

“This is why the state government is confident that the NLC will come to the negotiating table and together with the government chart a realistic path in balancing the welfare of the workers to which the government is obviously committed and the unpleasant economic indices that stare all of us in the face,” he added.

The state government, however, urged workers to resume at their duty-posts and “continue the good work they are known for.”