It has been observed the world over that cooperation and conflict are two tenets of industrial relations. So many factors are responsible for any possible disequilibrium in a prevailing situation within a particular setting; and as I have severally pointed out through this medium, change is the most resistible phenomenon in every human setting. It is therefore not strange that conflict often arises anytime an attempt is made to change the status quo ante; because there is deep love for human inertia.
To an entrepreneur, the main reason for embarking on a risk-taking venture is profit-making. Increase in production will lead to marginal reduction in cost; and on the long run, profit margin will increase. As the business owner is thinking about increased earnings, so is an average worker thinking about the best way to better his own lot; which is made possible only by an addition to the existing remuneration that is otherwise called disposable income or take home pay.
Many have argued that almost all increases in the Nigerian workers’ emoluments have left production always at the same ebb. Nigerian workers are quick to demand for wage increase but when the quest for reciprocity is made, trouble brews. This has been responsible for most distresses that have been witnessed in the industrial sector over the years because control over macro-economic variables to stem inflation often prevents industrialists from indiscriminate price increases which would have been a corollary for an increase in overhead cost.
The analysis given above is obtainable in a typical industrial setting, even though this can also relate to a civil servants’ state like Osun because the economy of the state is sustained only by what civil servants eject into the market from what they earn from government treasuries. After twenty years of its existence, Osun State still remains a Lilliputian as far as industrial development is concerned because more that seventy per cent of the total income is derivable from government employment; leaving only thirty per cent to workers in other commercial activities.
Most times that workers in the public service have cause to demand for wage increase, all clauses and opportunities; as enshrined in labour relations charter are not usually exhausted before workers embark on strike actions. In the latest government/workers’ imbroglio, the workers seemed to be too much in a hurry before embarking on their actions. Workers in the state did not consider the situations on ground as far as the Nigerian project is concerned. The Federal Government has failed twice to implement the much orchestrated N18,000 minimum wage. President Goodluck Jonathan said in August, 2010 that the new minimum wage would take effect from January 1, 2011.He blatantly failed As the election period was approaching, the Federal Government also came up with a new date of June 1, 2011, believing that this would enable the majority in the public service to vote for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Immediately after the election, the story changed; and up till today, Thursday September 8, 2011, no federal worker has collected any salary within the regime of N18,000 minimum wage. This indeed puts a big question mark on the stand point of government workers in Osun State civil service to embark on any strike action.
I must commend the traditional rulers, the religious leaders and other well-meaning individuals in Osun State who have spared no space to go all out to appeal to the state civil servants to go back to work. These people understand what is on ground which indeed has paralyzed not only government activities but also commercial activities in all the major communities of the state. Much as the workers have the right to demand for living wages, they also owe it a duty to see to it that the state does not collapse; which the latest action might precipitate.
As it is today, cost of living is high in Osun State because the roads are bad, and social infrastructure are in shambles as a result of long neglect by the immediate past administration. Most homes live on generating sets with their attendant hazards and costs of maintenance; while vehicle owners frequently visit mechanic workshops to fix their cars due to incessant breakdown occasioned by dilapidated road network across the state.
The Federal Government goofed my making a blanket statement that all the states of the federation must pay the new salary without due consideration for other salient variables which may put some states in a difficult situation to cope with. The same Federal Government is concentrating on the facelift of some states, whereas others are utterly neglected either because they are not controlled by the party ruling at the centre or because they belong to certain geo-political zone. In Osun State, for instance, the federal road maintenance agency (FERMA) that is handling the maintenance of some federal roads is only making a mockery of the confidence the general public repose in them. Gbongan-Osogbo axis is a good example where the potholes being filled with asphalt are giving way after them immediately they finish in fixing them.
Workers in Osun State should see the fixing of infrastructure like road, electricity, water and other public utilities as part of their social contract. They must give wise counsels to government about its responsibility to the general public. I will be happy to see them create conducive environment for infrastructural development and then choose to embark on strike or any industrial action if they see that government has failed to be responsive. I believe the market men and women, as well as the artisans will give full backing if their grievances are removed from parochial sentiment that only bothers on wage increase for government workers only. If they intensify effort in improving on the internally generated revenue (IGR) and government in turn fails to reciprocate by improving on the ecstatic outlook of our urban and rural communities, honestly, I will lead in any civil action again the government.
As government gives concessions to satisfy the yearnings of the civil servants in the state, it must not in any way constitute a hindrance to meeting the expectation of the masses that have looked forward to a government that will turn around the fortunes of the state for the better. Government must put in place all apparatus that will make the system functional. Any increase in the emoluments of workers in the state should not be allowed to create any logjam to its avowed resolve to move the state out of the woods.
A lot has been lost to the industrial action. I know of some people who bought vehicles recently and chose to go to neighbouring states to register their vehicles. A lot of revenues have also been lost to the activities of some saboteurs who often hide under the cloak of inactivity to perpetrate sabotage and other nefarious activities. Everything must be done to cover the lost ground so that once again, Osun can be on the move again after the lull and inactivity of the past few weeks.