SOCIAL and economic activities were on Wednesday paralysed at the Osun State Government secretariat, Abere, as the civil servants began a three-day Warning Strike action to demand for the payment of 34 months salary arrears, 2016 leave allowances and remittance of contributory pension.
When Tribune Online visited the secretariat around 11.05 am, virtually all the offices in the ministries, departments and agencies were under lock and key, thus inhibiting any form of official transaction.
Though one segment of the main gate, leading into the expansive secretariat complex was opened, few security operatives, including officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were sighted mounting security at the entrance.
Speaking during a chat with our correspondent on the level of compliance of the workers to the industrial action, the chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Osun State chapter, Comrade Adebowale Adekola said “we have given the directive for a warning Strike and civil servants are complying with it. We have the intention of resuming work on Monday.”
According to him, “we have instructed all the workers to stay at home. We just started the strike action and we cannot measure the compliance by the inactivity at the state secretariat alone. The top echelon of government may have found their way into the state secretariat. From the information gathered, 70 per cent of our workforce are presently at home.”
Adekola continued, “by tomorrow, it would be full compliance and because we would make sure that anybody that is at work today would be forced out tomorrow. With the feedback from the state secretariat, there is impressive level of compliance, some people were informed late yesterday and this morning. Some of them have their drugs in the office and other items vital to their health. They went to the office to pick it up.”
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On what the labour would do if the state government failed to accede to their demands, he stated that “it is a three-day warning strike. We would resume on Monday to assess the level of compliance and response of the government if any. If there is no serious response from the government, we would declare another 7-day warning strike before we embark on the indefinite industrial action.”
Adekola, however, hinted that Governor Rauf Aregbesola- led administration had not reached out to the labour over their demands, saying the organised labour would continue to demand their rights without being antagonistic in their approach.
Similarly, the chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Jacob Adekomi contended that “our workers are only asking for their rights. The warning strike is not about fighting the government, but asking for ones’ rights. It concerns all workers, even workers who are being paid full salaries, their 2016 leave bonus is involved in our demands.”
He further maintained that “it is not about individual, it affects all cadres of workers in the state. Nobody is interested in fighting the government, we are only demanding for our legitimate rights. The leadership of the labour would meet again next week and review the situation to decide on progress made and our next line of action.”
Reacting over warning strike, the media adviser to Aregbesola on media, Mr Sola Fasure advised the workers not to allow themselves to be used as tools of blackmail ahead of the forthcoming September 22 governorship poll, saying all stakeholders must collaborate effectively for a peaceful exercise.
Speaking during a telephone chat with our correspondent, he emphasised that “as you will see that election is approaching, organisations and individuals are using it as an opportunity to engage the government thinking that the government would need their utmost support. It is a kind of blackmail tool regarding the strike action.”
“But then, pressing for demands in democracy or workplace rights is okay. Government has always been engaging workers and government would continue to engage them, but we can only appeal to them not to disrupt the election and the peace in the state,” Fasure remarked.
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