The organised labour in Kogi State has appealed to the Federal Government to direct relevant humanitarian agencies to send relief materials to the state to assuage the plight of the state government workers on strike.
Olakunle Faniyi, Kolawole James and Isah Abubakar, all Secretaries of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC)) and Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) made the appeal in a statement on Wednesday.
In a statement made available to journalists in Lokoja, they said the appeal became necessary because the situation of workers in the state had become worse, compared to the condition of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in various camps.
The labour also noted that the agony of workers in the state was not in any way less than the experiences of victims of natural disasters.
“A situation where workers cannot afford even one meal a day and pay the school fees of their children is already a humanitarian issue.
“As it stands today, over 30 per cent of the workforce is owed 21 months’ salary arrears.
“Twenty (20) per cent has not paid salaries between 11 and 18 months while about 45 per cent took salaries up till June, this year.
“These are the categories of workers Kogi State Government is forcing to embrace the `Clock-in, Clock-out’ policy of government.
“The organised labour, therefore, calls on government to treat Kogi workers with dignity,” they said.
The union officials said not even in the era of slave trade that slaves were forced to work on empty stomach.
Labour, therefore, advised Kogi Government to accept the reality on the ground and stop the `current intimidation and coercion tactics’ it usually employs ”when it comes to workers’ demands for their rights.”
It also implored well-meaning Nigerians and Kogi indigenes not to sit on the fence on issues affecting millions of lives of indigenes of the state.
The labour in the state commenced an indefinite strike on Sept. 22 to protest non-payment of salaries and government’s new policy of `Clock-in, Clock-out’ among other issues.
Kingsley Fanwo, Director-General on Media and Publicity to the Governor Yahaya Bello had earlier told newsmen that the unions were not truthful.
He said: “They are misinforming the people for selfish reasons.”