..says govt owes N32bn deductions
Labour leaders have accused the state government of sending hoodlums after them to kill them. The indefinite strike by the workers in Ogun State has entered its fifth day yesterday,.
The state government is said to owe the workers N32 billion unremmitted deductions contrary to government insistence that it does not owe the workers.
The chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Olubunmi Fajobi, in an interview with Daily Sun said all the labour leaders have gone into hiding as it was now unsafe for them to walk freely on the streets.
“We had it on a reliable information that the government has directed that we should be shot on the leg if we are seen, hence all of us have gone into hiding”, he said.
He however noted that the strike,which had high level of compliance from all the over 16 unions in the state, comprising of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and TUC, would continue indefinitely until the state government meet the workers agitation.
The Labour leader who said the strike was not premeditated nor influenced said the union embarked on the strike as a result of breach of agreement by Ogun Government for four consecutive times since 2014, and after the expiration of the 21 day ultimatum issued on 29th of September.
Continuing, he said, “The current struggle is to free the deprived workers in Ogun state who voluntarily contributed part of their salary to Cooperative society, bank loan refund , Ileya savings and other deductions, such as asset acquisition repayment, target savings, unions’ check off dues which were all diverted by Ogun state government fraudulently.”
The TUC chairman said the workers had called for the abolition of Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), as the state government since assumption of office in 2011 never made any remittance, bringing the months owed to 73, with the backlog from the previous administration.
Among others the organised labour said the state government has also stopped payment of gratuity to workers since 2012, forceful seizure of union membership fees to cripple unionism, 16 months unpaid salary to TASCE workers, unreleased promotion for 2015 and collection of form fee for car and housing loan without access to fund as well as occupation of NLC office by 50 Armed policemen.
The labour leader said the deductions that ought to be paid monthly to the workers stand above N1.3billion, adding that records at the disposal of labour shows that state government can conveniently pay the backlog of arrears owed Ogun workers from bullet payments, bail out, Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) and others.
“We believe this can be done if for once they are prepared to show concern for workers, after all, all the political appointees collect their salary in full without any deduction and will still go home with severance and other packages”, he said.
He lamented that the state government through its position of not releasing part of the legitimate earnings from workers salaries, have institutionalised poverty across the economic strata of the State.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the ongoing brutality and mayhem deployed by the state government against the striking workers.
The NLC factional leader, Joe Ajaero in a statement said,“We are truly concerned and alarmed at the bloody events in Ogun state in the last few days and the statement issued by the Ogun state traditional rulers council over the face-off between the state’s workers and the state government’s use of violence against workers over non-payment of salaries and wages including the infidelity of the state government to agreement reached between it and the workers on the intervention of this same Council of Traditional Rulers”.
Ajaero added: “We are worried at this increasing use of the instrument of violence especially thugs and hoodlums by state governments in resolving matters with Nigerian workers. We saw this at Nassarawa state and now, we are seeing it in Ogun state. It will be a dangerous precedence if this culture of violence become entrenched as no one section of the polity has a monopoly of these instruments of violence”.