By Kehinde Ayantunji
The Veteran Labour Leader, and the Chairman Osun Revenue Apportionment Committee, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu has said that the Modulated Salary initiative was the best option as at the time it was adopted.
In an interview, Sunmonu said the first option was for workers to go on strike and paralyse the state, which would have a bad consequence on the workers and the people, the second option was to sack workers if full salaries would be paid, while the third option was the modulated salary arrangement.
According to him, the first and second options would not be tenable to any sincere labour leader or trade unionist.
The labour leader hinted that the arrears of the modulated salary would be paid when the economy of the state is buoyant, saying the government was already saving the money for that purpose and has shown commitment to the payment of the arrears.
“We had three options; you have to consider your options when you are a leader. You must consider the consequences of every action and go for the most suitable one.
“The NLC in Osun had the option to go on strike and paralyse the state, but what consequence would that have on the people and the workers themselves? The second option was that if the full salaries would be paid, government would be forced to sack some workers. We all know the unemployment situation and its effects in Nigeria.
“If the NLC went for the first option, Aregbesola would remain governor because you cannot depose him, but the people, including the workers would suffer. If the second option was taken, what would be the fate of those who would lose their jobs? Don’t forget that when you sack one worker, about 10 people will suffer for it because he has a family.
“The third option was to consider the resources of the government and decide what could be done to accommodate everybody.
“We did not want anybody to be sacked, so we said that workers from level 1 to 7 would be getting their full salaries while those from level 8 to 17 would earn half. When the government becomes buoyant they will take the arrears. The government was saving the money for those guys because they will surely take their arrears.
“I told the governor that he must pay the money when the economy of the state improves and we asked if the state would be able to pay full salaries if government’s internally generated revenue could go up to N5billion monthly. The governor said yes, but the internally generated revenue of the state has not come close to that since then.
“When the governor got the Paris Club refunds, he reviewed the pay of those on level 8 to level 12. Therefore, only the very senior workers whose salaries are huge are taking half now, and they will surely get their arrears when the state becomes buoyant. That is still better than sacking half of the workforce in Osun.
“We realised that workers’ salaries is their most fundamental right, you must not deny a worker his pay, but the situation in Osun required pragmatic leadership and define wisdom to handle. Before the economic meltdown, Governor Aregbesola was paying the 13th month salary to Osun workers”, Hassan restated.