Organized labor leaders in Ondo State on Tuesday night refused to shift ground, as their meeting with the delegation of the State government to end the ongoing industrial dispute over workers’ unpaid salaries ended in deadlock.
Sources inside the meeting told SaharaReporters that the meeting started around 11 am on Tuesday and was summoned by the State Head of Service (HoS), Toyin Akinkuotu, on the order of embattled Governor Olusgeun Mimiko, who has failed to resolve the ongoing strike.
Labor leaders had held a meeting on Monday with Ondo State officials, but it was later postponed till Tuesday after both parties failed to reach an agreement.
One of the sources that pleaded anonymity disclosed to our correspondent that during the meeting the State government was not willing to agree to the demands of labor by paying at least three months’ salaries out of the outstanding six months.
“The State government has nothing to offer going by their action during the meeting that lasted almost seven hours in the government office.
“Our leaders and the Ondo State workers are demanding at least three months’ payment out of the six months that the government owes us.
“All they are saying is that there is no money and the federal allocation has dropped drastically, so they are offering us one month and no one is likely to collect that from them,” he told SaharaReporters.
The source added that the Mimiko-led government has been doing everything in its capacity to forcefully stop the industrial action embarked upon by the civil servants.
Speaking after the unsuccessful meeting, Bosede Daramola, Chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Ondo State, told journalists that labor leaders are still negotiating with the State government on plans to end the prolonged strike.
“We are still discussing. Negotiation resumes on Thursday by 10 am, and we will wait patiently till then when we will be able to brief you adequately on the offer of the government and the position of organized labor in the state on the strike.”
She, however, refused to give details of the negotiating terms between the State government and leaders of organized labor.
Sola Ekundayo, Chairman of the Ondo State Trade Union Congress (TUC), also told journalists that both the State government delegations and labor leaders would go back to re-strategize before converging back on Thursday.
“Both parties would go home to re-strategize and meet again by Thursday,” he said while addressing journalists.
Sunday Adeleye, the Ondo State Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Public Service Council (JNC), said that talks between the labor leaders and State government have not broken down.
“The negotiation has not broken down. We are still negotiating and we have both agreed that we will go back to our people [Ondo State workers] to renew our mandate,” Mr. Adeleye said.
None of the organized labor leaders were willing to reveal details of the meeting, mostly at the request of the State government, when confronted by journalists during the interview.
A SaharaReporters correspondent reported that the government officials who attended the meeting, including the State Head of Service (HOS), Toyin Akinkuotu, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Eyitayo Jegede, and the Commissioner for Finance, Yele Ogundipe, bluntly refused to speak with journalists.