N35, 000 wage award: Oyo govt’s responses pathetic – Labour
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Oyo state branches have described as pathetic and disheartening the responses it said are emanating from the Oyo state government and its functionaries.
The labour unions in a statement signed by Comrades Kayode Martins and Bosun Olabiyi-Agoro, NLC and TUC chairmen respectively noted the workers and pensioners are going through a lot of hardships coping with the current economic situation in the country occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.
Recall the Oyo state government through a statement titled, “NLC deadline: Oyo government waves Olive Branch, flaunts worker-friendly policies,” and signed by Prince Dotun Oyelade, commissioner for information and social orientation, noted the state workers and pensioners ought to appreciate its efforts in prioritizing the welfare of workers as evident in payment of salaries not later than the 25th of every month, award of 13th month salaries, ensuring promotion of workers, and that it set up a committee to workout the modalities for taking care of workers after subsidy was removed by the federal government stressing this should be seen as an Olive branch being waved to workers and as such should not be persecuted for a problem it did not create.
To demonstrate its resolve on the implementation of the N35, 000 wage award approved for workers by the federal government to cushion the effect of the obnoxious fuel subsidy removal the labour unions issued an ultimatum last week to the state government lapsing on October 31 in which workers would be directed to proceed on industrial action if their demand is not met.
The labour further points out the commissioner for information “misinformed the general public” by the statement and while though commending the initiative of the state government to set up the committee it frowns at its slow pace of work thereby its sincerity.
The labour unions state, “We want to carefully review the recent appeal to the diligent workers of Oyo State, urging them to accept the olive branch extended by the State Government through the Commissioner of information, Prince Dotun Oyelade who has misinformed the General Public with his write up. While it is commendable that the Government has reached out through a committee set up but the Labour centres frowned at the pace and questions the sincerity of the Government side in handling the issue of Wage Award. There are significant concerns that must be addressed. It’s essential to emphasize that this response is not intended to criticize the government but to provide constructive feedback, which we hope will foster an environment of collaboration and understanding between the Government and its workforce.”
The labour union wonders why government will flaunt payment of workers’ salaries as a great achievement noting it is an obligation and not a privilege.
“It’s disheartened to hear the assertion that the Government pays its workers. However, the claim that it should be perceived as a commendable achievement is perplexing. Payment of workers’ salaries is a fundamental obligation, not a favor or an exceptional feat. Workers deserve their salaries at the end of each month as a matter of routine, without any wavering.”
The labour rather urges the Oyo state government to take a cue from Lagos and Borno state governments on how to address workers’ welfare. “In the plea for acceptance, the said politician must know that Oyo State Government should learn from the Borno or Lagos State Governments on how to take care of their workers. We’ve rightly noted that Oyo is regarded as a pace-setter state, and it’s only fitting that the government ensures that the welfare of its workforce is of a similar standard. It is essential to prioritize the well-being of the state’s workers and Pensioners, who plays a vital and important role in Oyo State growth and development.
“The Commissioner for Information’s mention of a committee formed since June 5, 2023, which has yet to reach a logical conclusion raises questions about the government’s commitment to resolving the workers’ welfare related issues. Three months have passed, and it’s fair to ask whether the cost of living remains the same as it was in June even when the FAAC has increased tremendously from the Federal Government, Workers and Pensioners continue to face the same financial challenges, and a lack of progress. The only form of proactiveness to them is to be forming committees without any results to show. This is so disheartening.”
It also faults the exclusion of state workers and pensioners from the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAFER) initiative of the state government, submitting, “The claim that the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAFER) initiative would not encompass state Workers and Pensioners, but only the poorest of the poor raises a significant issue. Are Oyo State Workers and Pensioners not part of the poorest of the poor? Many of them struggle to afford basic necessities, such as three square meals, accomodation , children’s school fees, transportation to their workplaces and homes etc. They share the same markets with ordinary citizens, and their financial difficulties are glaring. It is imperative that the State Government recognizes the plight of its workers and Pensioners which as a matter of urgency extend a hand to uplift them.
“It should be a priority to enhance the lives of workers not only through short-term relief measures but also through long-term, sustainable solutions. Workers and pensioners deserves better lives and would contribute positively to the state’s development. they deserve policies that reflect these aspirations.”
It meanwhile emphasizes the workers and pensioners’ demand is neither unreasonable nor illegitimate and is not aiming to destroy government, disclosing that explains the premium it places on dialogue.
“It is vital to clarify that Oyo State Workers and pensioners are not seeking the downfall of the Government. They are advocating for better conditions and livelihoods that would enable them to provide for their families and contribute to the state’s growth. Their demands are reasonable; they are a reflection of the basic rights and dignities that every worker should enjoy..
“While the leadership of the labour centres in the state adopted the social dialogue measure of domestication as contained in the Federal Government and the national leadership of NLC/TUC agreement on wage award to ensure Oyo State Government’s compliance to the wage award with the ultimatum contained in it, some aides of the Government instead of finding workable solution, are going about threatening workers not to comply if labour declare strike. This is really pathetic.
“In conclusion, it is our hope that this response will contribute to an atmosphere of mutual understanding, where the Oyo State Government and its workers through their leaders can come together to address the challenges faced by the workforce. It is only through collaboration and open dialogue that lasting solutions can be found. As the expiration of ultimatum approaches, we urge the Government to urgently meet with the leadership of both NLC and TUC to discuss the way forward and work towards a brighter rewarding future for Oyo State and its dedicated Workers.”