Osun workers vow to continue strike
There seems to be no headway in the industrial crisis rocking the Osun State civil service as efforts by the traditional rulers and religious leaders in the state to resolve the labour unrest arising from the raging issue of the ₦18,000 minimum wage have proved unsuccessful.
Workers in the employment of the state government yesterday declared to continue with the strike until the state government paid the minimum wage across the board.
The workers had since last month commenced an indefinite strike to press home their demand for the full implementation of the ₦18,000 minimum wage as signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, thereby paralysing economic and social activities of the state.
The chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state, Francis Adetunji who spoke on behalf of other labour leaders in the state at a press conference in Osogbo yesterday, criticised the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola on his stand on the implementation of the minimum wage and declared that his threats to workers could not hold water.
Mr Adetunji who alleged that the governor instructed armed policemen to deal ruthlessly with any worker who staged protest or undermined his authority, quoted the governor as saying that “I will use everything within government power if the labour dares my government.”
The labour leader stated: “We never experienced what we experience from Aregbesola’s government as labour leaders even during the military rule in the process of agitating for our rights in the state.”
He dissociated the labour unions from the ₦19,001 minimum wage announced by the state government, saying that the labour unions did not enter into any negotiation with the government before it approved the ₦19.001 as minimum wage from levels 01 to 07.
‘State can pay’
Mr Adetunji maintained that the state government could conveniently pay the ₦18,000 minimum wage across board considering the average income of the state put at ₦3.9 billion monthly out of which ₦1.8 billion is required for the payment of salaries and wages of workers in the state based on the new minimum wage.
While giving a breakdown of the monthly income of the state from January to June 2011, Mr Adetunji disclosed that the federal allocation and Value Added Tax alone stood at ₦3.5 billion each month, added to the monthly internally generated revenue of ₦4.2 million.
He added that the remaining balance of ₦2.1 billion could successfully execute fiscal development projects in the state aside from the money accruable from the excess crude oil money and ecological fund. He added that “what is in the coffers of the state government is enough to pay what the 15,000 workers of the state are demanding for”.
He debunked insinuations that the labour leaders were sponsored by the opposition parties in the state, stressing that the state government had lied to traditional rulers and religious leaders on the income and expenditure of the state.
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