Unpaid Ondo Workers Accuse Government Of Insensitivity

Workers in Ondo State have accused the state government of spending millions of naira to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the creation of the state when workers are not paid for three months.

The week-long events, held between the February 22 and 28 amid pomp and pageantry, were to also mark the seven-year anniversary of Governor Olusegun Mimiko in office.

Workers who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity accused government of insensitivity to workers’ plight, saying the situation had placed them and their families in difficult situation.

“I have five children and it is not easy to feed not to talk about doing other necessary things in the home,” a civil servant who preferred anonymity, for fear he might be victimised, said.

“It is saddening that government squandered millions of naira on parties, while it owes backlog of workers’ salaries.

“It has become so hard that paying school fees for the children is now a matter of indebtedness, some of the schools are allowing us to pay in bits whenever any of the salaries come.”

The civil servant said he applied to get a loan from his cooperative society, and until that materialises, he would have to continue to live on charity.

Another worker, who simply identified himself as Gabriel, said his situation deteriorated after exhausting avenues for loan acquisition.

“I borrowed from the bank, and because salaries are no longer coming as usual, I do not know what to do,” he said.

“I learnt of a finance house they call Sharp, Sharp. Some people are going there. I don’t know whether that will be an opportunity to get money, but paying back has always been the problem.”

The workers said it was only recently that the government paid November 2015 salary, saying they were yet to collect December 2015, January and February 2016 salaries.

The civil servants also accused labour union in the state of insensitivity, alleging that it failed to task the state government on meeting its obligation to workers.

But in a swift reaction, the chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Bosede Daramola, denied any compromise, stating the NLC was doing everything within its powers to ensure workers get their dues.

She said the economic hardship was not peculiar to Ondo State, noting that as long as there were funds, the NLC would ensure the interests of workers are prioritised.

The anniversary event, which was well attended by political and diplomatic bigwigs from within and outside the state, held at the newly built international conference centre, also referred to as the Dome.

Foods were in abundance and exotic drinks were served.

The events were televised live on TV, which cost the states several millions.

A tour of some key projects across the state was conducted in which dignitaries, including former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku; former Information Minister, Labaran Maku; former Labour Party Chairman, Dan Iwuanyanwu, and two senators, Ben Muray-Bruce and Shehu Sani, participating.

While defending the celebration, the Chairman of the Anniversary Planning Committee and Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Akin Adaramola, said the celebration was modest enough, in line with the economic realities of the state.

Premium Times

Protest In Ondo Over Missing Salaries Of Health Workers

Health Workers at Ondo State Specialist Hospital, in Ikare-Akoko, Akoko North East local government area of the state on Monday staged a protest over the missing of N15million meant for the payment of their November salary.

It was gathered that the protesters were accusing the accounting officer of the hospital, whom they claimed allegedly absconded with the money.

Already, the aggrieved workers have down tools and vowed that they would only return to work when they received their salaries.

The protesting workers called on government to urgently arrest and prosecute the suspected fraudulent accountant.

However, the Chairman of the state Hospital management board, Dr Niran Okunrinboye appealed to workers to return to work and allow government to find solution to the problem.

But, the chairman of the national Association of Nigerian Nurses and midwives, Mr. Kolawole Ezekiel, who spoke with reporters, insisted that all staff of the hospital had embarked on strike to press home for the payment of their November salary.

It was observed that families have started withdrawing their patients from the hospital after twenty four hours of non-treatment.

Ogun Workers Take Two-week Break From Strike

Civil servants in Ogun State, Wednesday, announced the suspension of their strike‎ “for two weeks”.

The workers said the decision was taken to allow the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun address their demands.

The state chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Akeem Ambali, who announced the development on Wednesday, said all workers under the employ of the state should resume at their duty posts on Thursday.

He said the suspension of the industrial action became necessary following intervention from well-meaning personalities, including members of the state House of Assembly and top traditional rulers.

He said, “Yes, we have suspended the strike. But it is for two weeks to enable the state government look into our demands. It followed the intervention of well-meaning people in the state.

“The Speaker and honourable members of the House of Assembly met with us and they asked for two weeks to enable them iron out our issues with the governor. Also, the Awujale of Ijebuland and the Alake of Egbaland met with Labour and promised to intervene by meeting the governor. I think they have met the govenor.

“Also, Dr Ade Abolurin (former Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) met with us and pleaded that we suspend the strike. Many people, including the Body of Former Permanent Secretaries also intervened. Therefore, as a mark of respect, we decided to agree with them.

“If they are saying two weeks, then let us wait and see what would happen. ‎The governor will meet Labour personally in the next couple of hours.”

Ogun Lawmakers Appeal To Striking Workers

The executive and legislature in Ogun State appear to have taken different positions on the strike by civil servants in the state.

While the state lawmakers are appealing to workers to end the one-week-old strike, the executive has threatened to implement the “no work, no pay,” policy from Monday.

The House of Assembly, in a statement made available by its Head of Information, Lawal Jamiu, on Sunday‎ resolved to intervene in the dispute over the non-remittance of deductions in workers’ salary.

The statement added that ‎at a meeting with the labour leaders, led by the Chairman of the state chapter of the Joint National Negotiating Council, Abiodun Olakanmi, the leadership of the House led by the Speaker, Suraju Adekunbi, called for the suspension of the strike to allow it look into the matter with a view to fashioning out a lasting solution to the dispute.

The Assembly blamed the situation on the global oil price, saying the APC-led government in the state is a labour friendly one.

It asked the union leaders to give the House the opportunity of bringing both the government and labour to the negotiating table to find a common ground around the logjam.

“It is hoped that with the intervention of the House, Labour will reciprocate the good gesture of the Assembly by toeing the line of amiable resolution of the dispute soonest”, the Speaker was quoted as saying.

However, unlike the lawmakers, the Executive ordered the workers back to work on Monday, with a declaration that failure to heed the directive will be punished.

The order was contained in a statement by the Head of Service, Sola Adeyemi, declaring that government would invoke ‘no work, no pay’ rule on workers who fail to resume duties from Monday.

‎”The Ogun State Government has invoked the ‘no work no pay’ rule of the Trade Dispute Act in relation to the ongoing industrial action by its workforce,” Mr. Adeyemi said.
“Consequently, the State Government has directed all workers to be at their duty posts from Monday, March 14, 2016.”
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According to the statement, “the application of the ‘no work, no pay’ rule followed the refusal of the striking workers to heed appeals from government and well-meaning indigenes of the state and the refusal of the labour unions to consider all entreaties to end the industrial action so that the state might be in a position to generate resources for the benefit of the workers and generality of the citizens.

“Section 43 (1) (a) of the Trade Dispute Act, provides that ‘Where any worker takes part in a strike action, he shall not be entitled to any wages or other remuneration for the period of the strike, and such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly’, government pointed out.

“Despite the fact that the State Government has been consistent with payment of workers’ salaries as and when due and has paid workers up to February 2016, with a promise to meet other demands once the finances of the state improved, union leaders went ahead to call out workers on a strike on March 7, 2016 and physically prevented majority of the employees, who reported for duties, from gaining access to their offices, ‘the statement said.

“Government will not yield to pressure to downsize or reduce salaries of its workforce as being suggested in some quarters. This is the reason why government employees should be in their offices. Government reaffirms its commitment to the welfare of its workers and calls for their understanding during the current economic downtown in Nigeria.”

In its response to the directive, the leadership of the striking workers have said that no amount of intimidation from government would make them return to work until all their demands are met.

The workers at a rally held at the NLC secretariat said they would protest to the governor’s office on Monday.

Stop your investment in Morocco, NLC, ASUU tell Dangote

A coalition of over 50 civil rights organisations including the Nigeria Labour Congress and Academic Staff Union of Universities on Saturday threatened to draw a battle line  with businessman and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote over his planned investment deal with Morocco.

They were protesting against the continued occupation of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, popularly known as Western Sahara by Morroco.

SUNDAY PUNCH reports that Morocco has been under international spotlight over the continued colonisation and subjugation of the people of SADR.

Dangote was said to have informed a business forum in Lagos that his firm was close to signing a multi-billion Naira deal with a Moroccan company to supply phosphate to feed a planned fertilizer plant.

But the President of NLC, Dr. Ayuba Wabba and ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Isah Fagge, during the inauguration of Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara, in Abuja, warned that such plans would elicit a strong and organised resistance from the labour movement.

While describing Dangote’s planned business deal with Morocco as an affront on the rights of the people of Western Sahara to self- determination, Wabba expressed the determination of the NLC and it allies to stop the deal.

He expressed shock at Dangote’s planned business prospect with Morocco, especially at a time when the global community were pushing for economic sanctions against the Morocco.

The NLC President said, “An injury to one is an injury to all. We heard that Dangote is planning business prospects with Morocco. We are ready to bring the full weight of the people to stop such business deal. We call on Dangote to respect the self-determination efforts of Saharawi people.”

He decried the deplorable conditions of the people of Saharawi and expressed the commitment of the NLC, in conjunction with civil society organisations to the total realisation of the rights of the people to self liberation.”

Also speaking, Fagge said, “In all of this, ASUU’s position is that no effort must be spared to set Western Sahara free from Moroccan captivity. We therefore call on all and sundry to give the Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara all the support it requires in achieving its core objectives. For now, every business interest in Morocco by any Nigerian should stop.

“We must all remain united in this historical mission to set Western Sahara free. For, it is only in the freedoms of the Saharawi people that the freedom of every Nigerian, nay African, can be meaningful and defensible. So, the struggle continues.”

Responding to this, the Group Head, Corporate Communications, Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, told our correspondent that Dangote promotes investment and economic liberation in Africa, while also providing job opportunities.

He said, “At Dangote, we do things that align with Nigeria’s best interest.”

At the event, a civil rights activist and President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, McMalachy Ugwumadu, was inaugurated the Legal Adviser, NMLWS.

In his keynote address, the Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and  Development, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, called on African leaders to put pressure on the members of the United Nations Security Council to support the process of decolonisation of Western Sahara.

While calling for collective efforts to liberate the people of Western Saharawi, he however, insisted the UN could not be entirely relied upon, adding that only Africans could resolve it.

“As we now live in a world where the relentless forces of globalization and the threats to national, regional, and global security are growing on a daily basis, a threat to peace and security anywhere should be seen as a threat to peace everywhere and thus demanding collective response. The continued denial of the exercise of the right of self-determination by the Saharawi people constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” Gambari emphasised.

In his address, the convener of the Committee for the Liberation of Western Sahara and former ASUU President, Dr. Oladipo Fashina, stated that the goal of raising a mass movement was to join the army of international movement for the termination of colonialism in Africa.

Punch

Ondo Retirees Lambast Mimiko Over Non-Payment Of Salaries And Pension

Labour retirees in Ondo State have come hard on Governor Olusegun Mimiko for his “refusal to pay salaries and pensions”.

The Labour Veterans, led by former Labour Union leader, Pastor Oyekan Arije, said this when they visited the All Progressives Congress (APC) State Chairman, Isaac Kekemeke.

The senior citizens were at Kekemeke’s office to show support for the APC in the forthcoming governorship election.

Arije was former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Mimiko on Due Process.

The retirees told the APC Chairman that “never before in the state’s history has public workers gone this long without being paid let alone celebrate the Yuletide bleakfully”.

They decried their members’ sufferings, saying they helped Mimiko to win in 2009.

According to the labour leaders, Mimiko is the first governor that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) would endorse and support.

They, however, declared that since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ruined the state, they have decided to work with the APC by ensuring that the party wins.

Kekemeke thanked the retirees for their visit and praised their doggedness in their struggle to continue to fight Labour’s cause even after retirement.

He praised their boldness for supporting the APC and enjoined them to continue to bear the present suffering the PDP-led government has brought on citizens, until “the APC government will come to change our stories for good next year”.

Largest Federal Allocation Earner, Akwa Ibom Gets 21-Day Ultimatum From NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom State chapter, has given the state government a 21-day ultimatum to resolve all pending labour grievances or risk industrial action.

The NLC described the government as being insensitive to the plights of civil servants in the state and accused it of blackmailing the organised labour and stifling its economy as measures to thwart industrial actions.

The state executive council of all industrial unions, under the NLC, after its meeting on Friday in Uyo, accused the present administration of not recognising the existence of labour in the state.

The state NLC Chairman, Mr. Etim Ukpong, said the meeting was necessitated by the state government’s unwillingness to address the backlog of workers’ grievances in the state for over six years.

He said, “The state government fails to take into account the plight and lamentation of workers, especially in the public sector and their dependants despite constant pleas and demands of labour, especially the NLC.

“Rather than engage the leadership of organised labour collectively in dialogue and ensure a balance of interest, where the workers would not be short-changed, government has resorted to divide and rule tactics by trying to blackmail the labour movement, ignore the workers by hiding behind the economic leanness of the time.

“You would recall our persistent cries for the government to address workers’ plight such as payments of gratuities to local government retirees and workers living and dead since 2009, payment of leave grants to teachers, local government workers and workers in the parastatals, many of them dating back to 2012, and harmonisation of retirees’ pensions in line with the law which stipulates upward review of pensions after five years, or whenever there was a new minimum wage in place.”

He listed other issues to include the release and implementation of promotions to civil servants, payment of promotion arrears, refund of 7.5 per cent deducted from workers’ salaries in the name of contributory pensions scheme, which was abrogated by the state House of Assembly two years ago, payment of salaries to teachers absorbed from taking over community schools since 2013, payment of salaries to civil servants, nurses, doctors, house officers and other health workers employed since 2014.

The NLC, in a communiqué released at the end of the meeting, also canvassed the recovery of over N1bn owed Akwa Ibom State indigenes by the Federal Government, which was removed from ALSCON in Ikot Abasi, recovery of primary schools counterpart funding from the Federal Government, payment of arrears of four months salaries to local government workers in Ikot Ekpene, two months salaries to workers in Abak, and a month arrears to workers in Ikono, Ini and Uruefong Oruko local government areas.

He said, “As we speak, nurses working in local governments are being owed the same arrears. Teachers employed and sent to junior secondary schools under State Universal Basic Education Board must be paid. The Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had rejected them and asked them to go to state secondary education board. As I speak, they have not got December salary.”

The Punch

Osun Says Doctors’ Demand Impossible In The Face Of Economic Hardship

…Accuses them of collecting 6 months salary without working 

The Government of Osun on Friday described the demand of the state striking doctors as impossible in the face of the present economic reality of the country.

Government, at a press conference addressed by the Chairman, Osun Special Committee on Health, Dr. Simeon Afolayan, stated that in the face of the current economic realities, it remains unbelievable that doctors would insist that they would not be bound by the modulated payment regime agreed to by over 39,000 other workers of the state.

Afolayan, a former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and the Hospital Management Board, held that the decision of the state to live within it’s means in the light of the shortfall in revenue to the state was taken by all stakeholders including all the representatives of labour unions and government.

He added that the doctors were dully represented on the committee that sits on all the revenues coming to the state and decide what goes into payment of salary and the running cost of government.

According to him, it was a tough choice, which the entire workforce of about 40, 000 workforce agreed to, saying such decision cannot be abrogated by a group whose members are less than 100.

“There is no way we could back down on this, because, in the first instance, other professionals had accepted the agreement reached with labour.

“Doctors were eager to join the general strike called by NLC even though they claim they are not affiliated to NLC but they refused to resume work when the strike was called off. When it is convenient for doctors, they harken to the voice of labour unions only to claim decisions taken by the same union is not bidding on them.

“The doctors have remained recalcitrant despite all entreaties by leading lights of the medical profession.

“They refused the popular agreement, what should government do? How can we reverse a decision accented to and agreed with by over 39,000 workers because about 100 people are dissatisfied.”

He said because of the seeming emergency situation the abandonment of work has created by the doctors, the state would not fold its arms and watch the health sector suffer any hitch as a result of the abandonment.

He said the government is deploying doctors from the Ministry of Health, Bowen University, the police, army and others to mitigate what could have been the effect of the works abandonment.

Afolayan called on well-meaning Nigerians to look at the issues involved in the demands of the doctors and see whether they are in tune with the realities of the current worsening global and national economic situation and how it affects Osun.

He pointed out that doctors have embarked on different actions bordering on abandonment of their duty post for about 11 months out of which government had even paid them for six month without working.

He added that by civil service regulation, workers who absent themselves from work beyond certain limit are deemed to have resigned their appointments, adding that the rule has taken effect and those doctors, who still want to render services have been given fresh opportunity by government.

He continued, “The government cannot be seen to be promoting and encouraging lawlessness by a group or individuals. This is a recipe for anarchy.

“That the doctors have abandoned their duty post for about 11 months and the state’s healthcare delivery system is still functioning  calls to question their relevance.

“The government commends the civil servants and other workers in the state for their loyalty, sacrifice understanding and commitment to the service of the people of the state in this special time and deplores the selfishness and blackmail antics of the doctors.

“In the face of the current economic realities, it remains unbelievable  that doctors would insist that they would not be bound by the payment regime agreed to by over 39,000 other workers in the state which was arrived at after a rigorous deliberation on the finances of the state within the context of the national economic realities.

“It is an open secret that Nigeria is faced with critical financial challenges which have made many obligations impossible. The state came up with a very transparent formulae for apportioning of its available resources adding that this was agreed to by all categories of workers in the state.”

While assuring the people of the state of the determination of the government not to allow the works abandonment affect the health sector, Dr. Afolayan said already applications from interested applicants who have signified intention to work under the Osun government are being processed.

Hike In Electricity Tariff: Osun Residents, NLC, TUC Shut Electricity Distribution Company

By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in Osun State have shut the Osogbo business hub of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) over the hike in electricity tariff.

The protesters joined other labour unions in the country in line with the directive of their national body to protest what they described as ‘epileptic’ electricity power supply and the increment in tariff.

Osun Defender correspondent gathered that the aggrieved protesters disallowed customers from being attended to.

The protesters who were joined by students, carried placards with various inscriptions which include; “Nigerians cannot be paying more for epileptic power supply”, “No to unlawful and willful hike in electricity tariff”, “Osun state NLC says no to 45% increase in electricity tariff”, and “DISCOS, don’t increase the burden of Nigerians”, among others.

NLC pickets Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) in Osogbo earlier today
NLC pickets Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) in Osogbo earlier today

Addressing journalists, State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, decried the “45 per cent increase” in the electricity tariff as announced by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.

Adekomi further stressed that due process in the extant laws for such increment was not followed in consonance with section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

He said there has been no significant improvement in service delivery.

Adekomi also submitted that it was unfortunate that the DISCOS did not honour an agreement signed in 2013 on the provision of metre to every building.

The NLC Chairman described the 45% tariff increment as ‘inhuman’ despite unstable electricity being experienced in the country.

Comrade Adekomi appealed to the DISCOS to see reasons to do the wish of the masses by ensuring that the status quo remain on the electricity tariff.

Echoing a similar view, the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Akinyemi Olatunji, said the DISCOS had no power to increase electricity tariff since there is a suit on the matter which has been pending in court since May 2015.

Adetunji added that the union would continuously picket the Distribution Company to resist any further attempt to increase hardship on Nigerian masses.

Okorocha Begs NLC To Shelve Protest Over Workers’ Suspension

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has appealed to the state and National Leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to shelve the protest against the suspension of parastatal workers in the state.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, read, “His Excellency has wished that instead of embarking on the protest that might end up not benefitting anyone, the National Leadership of the NLC should be patriotic enough to advise the leadership of the NLC in the state to honour their invitations to participate in the high-powered 18 – member committee set up by the state governor to review the cases of the staff affected by the suspension in question, so that the matter can be resolved amicably in the spirit of no victor, no vanquished.

“The committee would have been inaugurated last Tuesday, but it could not take place because the labour representatives did not come for the exercise.

“The committee has the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman in the state, chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), chairman Nigeria Medical Association, Imo State chapter, chairman National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Representative of Magistrates Association, Representative of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) IMSU, Imo Polytechnic, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), chairman of  Imo State branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Representative of the Judiciary Service Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN) as members.

“On the part of the Government, the Head of Service, Principal Secretary to the Governor, the Attorney General, the Accountant General, Commissioner of Finance, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Principal Secretary to the Deputy Governor are also members of the committee. The chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri is equally a member.

“This is a high-profiled committee and the governor believes that with this calibre of people in the committee whatever is the bone of contention between the government and the labour union in the state over the suspension issue can be resolved.

“The government has repeatedly explained that the suspension of the parastatal workers was not an outright sack or dismissal. The suspension was to enable the new managements of the establishments involved to take off in earnest.

“So, the essence of the 18-member committee is to look at the cases of these workers and decide whether to post all of them out to other government ministries and establishments or to even ask some of them to go back to the parastatals. And until the committee sits and takes decision on the suspended workers, nobody could accuse the government of any wrong doing.”

NLC Gives Osun Pass Mark On Application Of Bailout Funds

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has given a pass mark to the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola over his management of the bail out funds received from the federal government.

Mr. Wabba stated this while speaking with Tribune Newspaper in an interview on issues bordering on the anti-labour activities in some of the states, oil pipeline vandalisation, corruption and the demand for new national minimum wage.

“Osun is better.” Mr. Wabba said while answering questions bordering on the use of FG bailout funds.

“You remember we went there to negotiate the payment of the bailout. Even after the bailout, the governor has keep fate with continue payment of salary and transparently put on the table whatever comes in. They have also worked on how to improve the IGR, including setting up a committee that is being chaired by Hassan Sunmonu. So we can say progressively, the issue is under control.”

“There is actually cooperation between the union and the government towards addressing the issue. I think that is quite different from the issue of Imo State. Imo State is not even carrying the workers along; everything is being done by himself, even the payment of the bailout. It has not been transparently done to ensure that everybody is on the same page.” Mr. Waba stated

He continued, “Oyo State also has the same case with Osun, they are also assiduously working with our people. They have arrears, but they are working and making the issue transparent to address it.”

“The other one is Ebonyi State, which we are also planning to visit. He is paying regularly, but he also went ahead to also deduct some percentage from the salary of workers, which cannot be justified and which is not accepted to us. The only challenge is that you cannot also deduct workers salaries without their consent because the salary was negotiated, there is a table and therefore unilaterally, you can’t also go ahead to deduct from workers salary without their consent.”

“The other issue associated to it is that he is also trying to undermine the NLC structure going to obtain a black market pronouncement of court. But all of these, we are handling them and the Central Working Committee (CWC) have already approved that we should visit Imo and Ebonyi states and we have visited Imo and ready to visit Ebonyi because it was the decision of the CWC after taken reports of activities from all the states of the federation. They thought we should be able to visit them and see how we can be able to assist them.”