Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Wednesday in Ibadan said government would not rescind its decision on the “No Work No Pay’’ rule against striking workers.
Ajimobi, who made the assertion while monitoring attendance of workers at the State Secretariat, described as satisfactory the level of attendance and compliance with government directive.
The governor was accompanied by Alhaji Ishmael Alli, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Soji Eniade, the Head of Service as well as other aides.
The group went round the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works and Transport and Ministry of Agriculture.
“You can see that work is going on smoothly here. We are happy about the attendance. We will not pay those who are not in their offices.
“We have appealed to the striking workers to return to work but they remained adamant. We know some of them, they don’t even come to work when there was no strike.
“We have told them that “no work no pay’’ and we are going to stand by it,’’ he said.
Ajimobi said that workers absent from duty would forfeit their pay.
Speaking to newsmen after the inspection, Ajimobi urged the labour leaders to embrace modern day unionism, devoid of brigandage, subterfuge and thuggery.
“Modern day unionism is driven by engagement, consultation and productivity. If you don’t want us to implement a policy, you will come to us and tell us.
“We gave them the opportunity to come up with their ideas and proposal but they disrupted the stakeholders’ meeting.
“We want a labour union that will engage us in intellectual discourse and not those who still display the stone age labour practices,’’ he said.
The governor said that the entire labour force in the state was not more than 100,000, in comparison to the 10 million population of the state.
The governor denied rumour making the rounds that the state government collected N84 billion from the Federal Government between May 2015 and May 2016.
He said that the said amount was a combined allocation of both the state government and the local governments, adding that only N42 billion was received for the state during the period.
Ajimobi, however, said that a detailed breakdown of how the money was spent would soon be made available, saying that the money was used in paying workers’ salary.
Meanwhile, some of the workers, on Wednesday, in Ibadan held a rally to protest their unpaid six months salaries and government’s controversial proposal to offer the management of some schools to private bodies.
The rally, which was coordinated by the national body of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), took off from the Oyo State Secretariat of the NLC at Agodi-Gate at 10.30 am.
The workers marched through Oje, Beere, Mapo and Oja’Oba carrying placards with various inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs.
Addressing the gathering, the Oyo State NLC Chairman, Mr Waheed Olojede, said the rally was to further protest against what he called the anti-workers policy of the state government.
Olojede said that there was a contract of service delivery and payment of salary between the workers in the state and government.
He said that workers in the state had fulfilled their contract of service delivery in the last six months.
“The Oyo State government has refused to fulfil its contract on the payment of salaries by owing the workers six months arrears of salaries.
“We are on the streets to tell the Oyo State Government that it should as a matter of urgency pay the six months’ arrears of salaries, backlog of pension arrears and gratuity of pensioners.
“ The workers are also saying no to privatisation and sale of public secondary schools in the state.
“ We are not going to call off the strike until the state government pays the six months salary arrears and changes its decision on the sale of public secondary school,’’ he said.
The labour leader said that the constitution of Nigeria allows peaceful procession and the union would not in any way engage in acts of violence.
Similarly, the National Deputy President of NLC, Mr Peter Adeyemi, said the six months salaries owed workers should be paid with interest since the government failed to pay at the right time.
Mr Akin James, the Oyo State Secretary of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), on his part, dispelled the rumour that the union was not in support of the NLC in the state.
James said that NURTW was in agreement with the NLC in the state and would not go contrary to its directive.
The Joint Action Front, Academic Staff Union of University and other civil rights organisations also took part in the protest.
The governor had told newsmen after featuring on a live programme, “Eyi Ara, ’’ on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State that the industrial action was ill-advised.
He maintained that labour had no dispute with the government prior to the strike nor did it give any ultimatum in compliance with labour laws.
The state government had also consistently maintained that it was not selling public schools, adding that it was only inviting private sector participation in the running of schools to boost the education sector.
Later in the evening, the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigerian Union of Teachers held a seven-hour peace parley with the governor towards resolving the dispute that culminated in the ongoing industrial action by the workers.
The NLC was led to the parley by the Deputy President of the union, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, while the National Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, who doubles as the Vice Chairman of the NLC led the NUT to the meeting that lasted late into the night.
In company with them were the State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Waheed Olojede and other labour representatives from the national headquarters of the NLC and NUT, as well as their state representatives.
Briefing the press after the meeting, Adeyemi said that the meeting was fruitful, stressing that the parties were yet to reach a conclusion on the matter following the request by the labour representatives to be given 24 hours to enable them to brief the congress on the outcome of the meeting.
He added that the final decision of the labour unions would be communicated to members of the public through the media after meeting with the congress on Thursday.
Adeyemi said: “I want to inform you that no conclusive agreement has been reached after our lengthy meeting with the Governor. However, I want to assure the people that the leadership of the union will go back to brief our members on the deliberations we had with the governor.
“I’m assuring you that honest and final decisions would be taken tomorrow (Thursday) after we must have briefed our members and later we will address the press for members of the public to know the outcome.
“I want to use this opportunity to acknowledge and commend the governor for his large heart, which he demonstrated by devoting seven hours to today’s meeting. We all had the opportunity to table issues under dispute.”
Besides commending the governor for his “understanding, patience and tolerance,” the NLC boss also saluted the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Adeyemo, for facilitating the meeting with the governor.
He noted that the timely intervention by the leadership of the House of Assembly and concerned stakeholders since the crisis broke out was noteworthy.
In his response, the governor lauded the commitment and maturity with which the national leadership of the union handled the labour impasse, pointing out that the labour leaders displayed sincerity of purpose and high sense of maturity.
Ajimobi said that the meeting reflected government’s honesty and sincerity on various issues that came up for discussion at the parley.
He said, “I want to appreciate the commitment and maturity of the national leadership of labour and the NUT which they displayed today during our meeting. In fact, it was a reflection of honesty and sincerity of purpose, openness and transparency.
“We are by this dialogue deepening democracy. Democracy is about discussion, consultation and all of us must participate in it because there is no other way out other than to ensure the continued progress and development of our state and the country at large.
“We have had a family discussion and I’m optimistic that the crisis will soon be laid to rest. Dialogue is the potent weapon in any dispute and that is what I have been advocating. It’s good to jaw-jaw instead of war-war.”