19th July, 2011
The Oyo State Government has decried the decision by the leadership of labour in the state to embark on an indefinite strike action, a day before the nationwide strike action which governments at all levels are trying to prevent.
The reaction was contained in a release issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communication, Dr. Festus Adedayo.
Ajimobi observed that the leadership of the state labour union should as much as give the state government credit for being the only state in the country, in spite of its inherited bad financial situation, that had paid the N18,000 minimum wage across board for the month of May, without any strings attached.
According to him, “rather than acknowledge that the government bent over backwards because of its love for improvement in the lot of the workers, the leadership of labour in the state had been spreading unsubstantiated claims about the state’s readiness to pay the minimum wage. The government of Oyo state had, several times, even with the knowledge of the labour leaders, aside the decision by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to pay the minimum wage, expressed its willingness to pay the wage. I wonder why in spite of this openness by government, the labour leaders would still go ahead to embark on such a unilateral strike action without prior warning to the state government.”
The government, in the statement, said that it was convinced that some extraneous factors beyond the norm were at play in the labour leadership’s “inexplicable intransigence” and apparent desire to show to some persons that it was holding the government to ransom by every means possible.
The statement wondered why the labour leaderhsip, which had signed an agreement with government early June at which it was agreed by both parties that after government had paid the N18,000 minimum wage for the month of May, it should defer further payment until either allocation from the federation account improved or the internally generated revenue of the state improved, could now display this suspicious disposition to the olive branch offered by the government.
The government said that it views with suspicion the sudden decision by state’s labour leaders to embark on what it called a pre-emptive strike action when the state’s negotiation team had met with the labour leaders on the morning of the declaration of the strike action, wherein agreement was reached to pay the N18,000 minimum wage.
â€œWe believe they are being used by God-knows-who. The state negotiating team had met with them, which was followed by an understanding reached with their leaders by the State House of Assembly leadership, a few minutes before the declaration of the strike action.The whole world was aware that the 36 state governors were scheduled to meet in Abuja the second day (Tuesday), after which they would meet with the president and the national labour leadership and a final stance taken over the minimum wage issue. It was expected that a non-aligned labour leadership in Oyo State would have waited for another 24 hours to see the outcome of this negotiation. We strongly suspect that their fly that is dancing on the top of the water has its drummer hidden from visible eyes underneath the water.
â€œWe want to strongly hope that the talk being peddled on the streets of Oyo State that labour is an appendage of some politicians is not true. It is being alleged that labour would be used to destabilise this government. We beg the people of Oyo State to beg the labour leaders. Oyo government is ready to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage. Except if there is an extraneous reason that is hidden from the eyes of everyone, this strike should not hold in the first place,â€ the statement concluded.
By Gbenro Adesina