The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised the Ogun state government to embrace meaning dialogue in resolving the current crisis between it and workers in the state or face a major industrial dispute from organised labour in the country.
In a letter dated October 27, 2016 addressed to the the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, the congress offered to mediate between the government and workers in the state to ensure an amicable resolution if the crisis that has paralyzed activities in the state.
In the letter signed by the General Secretary of Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, the NLC also warned against the use of police to harass and intimidate labour leaders in the state, pointing out that the demands of the workers are legal and covered by extant labour laws in the country.
The letter reads: “We convey to you greetings from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above subject matter.
“We are surprised by the stance of the state government on genuine agitations of the workers in Ogun State. Instead of the state government to create an avenue for dialogue and resolution of the crisis, it is engaging in name-calling which will only exacerbate the problem.
“We are also surprised to hear that the Nigeria Police have cordoned-off the office of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Ogun State and have resorted to intimidating the Labour leaders in the state. We are also disturbed by attempts being made on the lives of the Labour Leaders in the state.
“The Nigeria Police are expected to be neutral in this matter and are not expected to harass or intimidate workers who are pursuing their legitimate demands recognized by Nigerian Laws.
“The present industrial action embarked on by the workers arose because of the failure of government to fully implement the March, 2016 collective bargaining agreement which led to the suspension of the strike in March. It should also be noted that a valid notice of intention to resume the strike was served on government which failed to avail itself of the period of notice to resolve the issues.
“Meanwhile, we wish to restate the premise on which the agitations of the workers are hinged. These are the illegal withholding of deductions from workers salary in the last one year. These include 72 months of unremitted deductions of contributory Pension, Cooperatives deductions and other bank repayment loans as well as 12 months union check-off dues.
“It also include unpaid gratuities of retirees for the last 2 years; sixteen months of unpaid workers’ salaries of the state-owned Tai-Solarin College of Education and the abolition of the Joint Account on Allocation Committee which has made salaries of Local government workers to be paid behind schedule.
“According to the unions, all attempts to amicably resolve the issues through dialogue with the state government have not been successful. Not even the intervention of revered traditional rulers like Obas and other well-meaning citizens of the state could help change the position of the state government.
“It is apparent that the withholding of these deductions and non-payment of gratuities and salaries of the affected workers have grossly affected meeting their basic needs and rendered their savings fruitless and ineffective.
“We are of the view that the prevailing atmosphere of industrial dispute, which could snowball into a major industrial conflict between labour and government, is avoidable if government could step back and embrace meaningful dialogue to resolve the lingering issues with the unions.
“If it becomes necessary, the NLC offers to be of assistance in making this engagement possible between the unions and government. It will be recalled that in pursuance of this bridge-building process, we had written Your Excellency on October 17, on the above subject but the letter was returned to us un-opened.
“While hoping that you will give due consideration to our observations and suggestions, kindly accept the renewed assurances of our goodwill and best wishes.”