Labour union leaders in Ondo State, on Sunday, announced their rejection of the 80 per cent of the September 2016 salaries paid into workers' accounts from the second tranche of the Paris Club Refunds by the state government.
Rising from an emergency meeting in Akure, the state capital, the union leaders, under the aegis of Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC), accused the governor, Mr. Akeredolu, of forceful introduction of ‘percentage and fractional payment’ into the state civil service.
The JPSNC has been pressuring the government to pay outstanding workers' salaries since the latter received N7.03 billion as its share of the second tranche of the Paris Club Refunds.
Mrs. Bosede Daramola, Chairperson of the Ondo State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), told journalists after the meeting that Mr. Akeredolu reneged on his promise to make life more livable for civil servants in the state. She explained that workers were surprised at governor's decision to direct the Accountant-General to remit only a percentage of the 2016 September salaries into workers' accounts.
She added that workers will consider the 80% salary payment as a ‘gift’, not what they are owed. Mrs. Daramola explained that at a meeting between organized labour and state government representatives, it was agreed that the second tranche of the 75% Paris Culb Refund would be used exclusively to pay civil servants on Grade Levels one to 14.
“We shall do everything to reject the introduction of percentage salaries in Ondo State no matter the government propaganda to blackmail us,” she said.
Mr.Soladoye Ekundayo, Ondo. State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), at the meeting, noted that the union leaders have been under attack by key aides to the governor over the rejection of the percentage pay. He described the conduct of the governor's aides as “authoritarian and erroneous”, saying their claim that the current administration does not owe the workers is propaganda.
“Rather than using his aides to attack the labour union leaders, let the governor pay, in full, the debt and salaries owed by his predecessor, Mr. Olusegun Mimiko. After all, his administration has been spending the money left in the state treasury by this same predecessor. We all know that Mr Akeredolu inherited both assets and liabilities from his predecessors”, he said.
The labour leaders accused the Head of Service, Mr Toyin Akinkuotu, of undue silence over the plight of workers.
Last week, in a one-page bulletin obtained by SaharaReporters, the union leaders called on civil servants in the state to be prepared for the struggle to force the governor to pay their outstanding salaries.
They maintained that no worker will accept any “part-payment” of outstanding salaries from the government. Civil servants in the state are being owed five months' salaries.
“Ondo State Government received N7. 03 Billion in the second tranche or Paris Club Refunds (PCR). On the 31 July, the union met and pleaded with Arakunrin (Mr. Akeredolu) to kindly pay September 2016 salary arrears, which is just N3.8billion, but he insisted that he will only pay 80 per cent of the September 2016 salary arrears," explained the unions in the bulletin.
They added that they also met with other top government functionaries to prevail on the governor to consider the plight of workers by paying their salaries in full, but He shunned the plea. The union leaders noted that the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) devoted its share of the PCR to fully offset arrears of July 2017 salaries for local government workers and maintained that they have resolved not to accept percentage payments.
“The labour movement unequivocally made its position known that on no account will any worker accept any form of part- payment of salaries and pensions from the state government. On no account will Ondo State workers experience Osun state scenario. Amen," the unions declared.
They wondered why the governor, who is just six months in office, has decided to treat workers shabbily despite their support for him during the election that brought him into office. They called on civil servants to ignore government propaganda and remain steadfast in the struggle to get what is justifiably theirs.