Workers on the payroll of the Oyo State Government have decried the non-payment of their February, March and April 2015 salaries as they joined their colleagues across the country to celebrate this year’s Workers’ Day.
The workers, who spoke under condition of anonymity, highlighted their struggle to fend for their families for the past three months. They, however, prayed that the Governor Abiola Ajimobi-led government would attend to their plight.
Newly elected factional chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Waheed Olojede, confirming this, said that it was unfortunate that the union’s efforts to beckon on government to pay the outstanding salaries had not yielded positive result so far.
He affirmed that the government of the state had not paid workers; February and March salaries with April just ending yesterday.
Olojede, however, noted that the government reportedly had commenced payment of February salaries of officers on GL01-06, in some ministries.
“But, if government has not paid beyond level 6, it means government has not paid February salaries. We look forward to a positive response from government in the light of today’s May Day celebration,” he added.
In a swift response, the state government, through the Special Adviser on Media, Dr Festus Adedayo, expressed government’s commitment to the payment of workers’ salary.
While attributing the development to the acute decline in federal allocation suffered by many states in the country, he noted that government will complete the payment of the outstanding February salary next week.
Meanwhile, the city of Ibadan wore a carnival like look today as traders and artisans joined their colleagues in government establishments to celebrate workers’ day. It was celebrations galore along Lebanon Street, King’s way road as traders wined and dined and danced to the blaring music provided for the celebrations.
While this might not be said of public sector workers who groaned over non-payment of salaries, traders in the ancient cities were in joyous mood as they urged the government at all levels to provide the needed infrastructure that would make like more abundant for the average citizen.
They lamented the epileptic state of electricity in the country in spite of huge funds already committed to the sector by government before privatization. They workers also groaned over acute shortage of fuel in Ibadan and other cities across the country, noting that Nigeria shouldn’t be having this kind of problem as a major crude oil producer.
As workers in Borno State urged full implementation of all their demands, their counterparts in Plateau have threatened to go on strike, if the state government failed to meet their ultimatum.
These demands come against the background of the 2015 Workers Day celebration across the country.
Mr Titus Abana, the Borno State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who made the call in Maiduguri, urged the government to pay priority attention to workers.
The theme for the 2015 May Day celebration is “The Working Class, Democratic Consolidation and Economic Revival: Charting the Way for the Nation’s Re-birth”.
Abana said that in spite of the security challenges in the state, members of the union decided to join their counterparts in other states to celebrate the day.
He urged Gov Kashim Shettima to focus on workers’ demands which include full implementation of the minimum wage for local government staff and primary school teachers.
“We also want you to pay outstanding 10 per cent and 30 per cent CONHESS for health and animal health workers in the state and local governments respectively.
“Payment of pensioners arrears, prompt electricity supply to the state secretariat offices without electrification and increased funding for the payment of gratuity to teachers.’’
Abana also urged the state government to ensure payment of outstanding salaries of staff of Borno Investment Company, state hotels and housing corporation.
The chairman also called for immediate lifting of the embargo on employment in the state, to reduce unemployment, poverty and redundancy among the teeming youths.
He stressed the need to revive dormant industries such as Neitsl shoe factory, Soda Ash Plant, Wire and Nail industry and the Borno State Fertiliser Company.
He said that these industries, when revived, would generate more internal revenue and employment.
Abana further urged the government to recommend 65 years as the retirement age for staff of tertiary institutions in the state through an executive bill to the state assembly.
In his remark, Shettima, said the state government was determined to address all the demands and plight of workers in the state.
Represented by Alhaji Zannah Mustapha, the Deputy Governor, Shettima said that the payment of gratuity for state, local government and primary school teachers and employment of international hotel staff would also be looked into.
He commended civil servants in Borno for their contribution to his re-election, saying that the government would continue to create a conducive environment for increased productivity through the implementation of policies and programmes that would better their lives.
Meanwhile in Kaduna, Mr Adamu Ango, the Kaduna State NLC Chairman, has demanded the state government to pay outstanding leave grants owed local government workers in the past six years.
Ango made the call on Friday in Kaduna at a ceremony to mark this year’s Workers Day celebration.
He also demanded that workers who were removed from the new Pension Act, should be refunded their contributions.
While lauding the outgoing state government for living up to workers’ expectations, the chairman underscored the need for the incoming federal and state governments to be committed to workers’ welfare.
Similaly in Plateau, the NLC has directed all its affiliate unions and workers to commence mobilisation for a strike at the expiration of its ultimatum to the state government on May 4.
Jibrin Bancir, the state NLC Chairman gave the directive while briefing newsmen in Jos on Friday on the occasion of the 2015 Workers Day.
Bancir said that labour had negotiated for a long time with the state government for the peaceful resolution of their disputes but without success.
“It is apparent that we must take the last action so that we will not continually be subjected to slavery by the government of Dr Jonah Jang.
“Plateau workers will not be celebrating the May Day with our colleagues all over the world because of bad governance and inhuman treatment that we have been subjected to over the years by the Jang administration.’’
Bancir said that workers had several issues that had consistently lingered over the past years “in spite of our struggles”.
He listed some of the issues to include outstanding arrears of minimum wage, non-release of promotion of staff and consistent non-payment of salaries.
Others are the non-implementation of the minimum wage by local governments and primary school employers, non-payment of the outstanding 2012 leave and transport grant as well as non-payment of gratuity and pension to retirees.
According to him, the future of workers has been destroyed by a few who see the worker as an enemy that should not be allowed to survive.
“The pains of the workers will not be forgotten as they would be remembered for the sacrifices and positive contributions they have made for the development of the state.
“We have no doubt kept faith with our democracy over the years for the unity of our country, Nigeria, but what we have received in return as dividends of democracy is trauma and anguish that our members have been made to go through.’’