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Sunday, 5 June 2016

We want pay, not solidarity strike, Ekiti workers tell Fayose

Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state
Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state
Striking workers in Ekiti State on Sunday told Governor Ayodele Fayose to pay workers their salaries rather than engage in a solidarity strike with them.

“What we want is our money to alleviate our poverty,” said the chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Odunayo Adesoye

Mr. Fayose had on Friday declared that he had placed himself on indefinite strike in solidarity with the workers who had been on strike for about two weeks over non-payment of five months outstanding salaries.

“We appreciate the governor for sharing our pains and anguish. But the workers will appreciate and commend  him the more if he can pay at least two or three months salaries out of five months owed,” he said.

“Our situation has gone beyond the governor declaring mere solidarity strike. We need more of actions now than talks because our situation is gradually becoming hopeless.

“Some of us have the intention of going to work, but no money to pay for transport fare. Some of us could not take two square meal a day. Some could not cook soup with ordinary fish, so our situation has gone beyond what anyone could trivialize.”

Mr. Adesoye, however, noted that the striking workers were resolved to fight on, because it was an issue that borders on our welfare, careers  and prosperity.

“We are hearing that the federal government want to give grants to states , so if Mr Governor could pay three  months now,  it will be easy to use the grant to pay the remaining two months and still help in paying  for the subsequent months,” he said.

“We appeal to the workers to be law abiding. We want them to be civil, even in the face of provocation. By the grace of God, we shall all rejoice in the end.”

While explaining Mr. Fayose’s solidarity strike, his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, told Premium Times that all the commissioners, permanent secretaries and directors of ministries also joined the solidarity strike.

Mr. Olayinka said the solidarity strike would go on until the workers return to work, since Mr. Fayose and others will not be able to function if the state’s civil service is inactive.

“If he approves money, who’s going to process it? If he wants to award contract, can he do that alone?” the spokesperson said . “So what he’s saying is that he won’t bother getting the senior government officials to come to work since they also need the civil servants to work with them.”

In a similar response as his TUC counterpart, the chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Ade Adesanmi, said the workers prefer to be paid rather than be shown such solidarity.

Mr. Adesanmi, who said he had not been informed of any deliberation scheduled for next week with Mr. Fayose, saying his team had already met with government officials twice last week.

“I’ve not been officially informed about any meeting with the governor,” Mr. Adesanmi told Premium Times on Sunday. “We’ve already met with them last Wednesday and Thursday.”
Mr. Adesanmi said the workers were demanding that the state should settle at least three out of five months salaries they were being owed.

“Our request is that 3 months out of the 5 months should be paid. Government is saying one month. Even if 2 months are paid, 90 per cent of them would not take anything home. They have loan obligations to meet and banks would automatically take their money. We won’t have money to even get to work.”

Mr. Adesanmi said the strike had taken a terrible toll on the workers in the state. He said about five of his members had died within the last few weeks.

“At least 5 of our members died because of the situation.”
Mr. Adesanmi chided Mr. Fayose for embarking on a solidarity action, saying it was tantamount to a mockery of their forlorn situation.

“If government doesn’t have money, government should be persuasive, the issue of going on strike with us in this miserable condition is unwarranted and not funny like he thinks.”
Governor Fayose had said he hoped that “common sense prevails” when the two parties meet next week to resolve the impasse.
In January, lawmakers approved aN68 billion appropriation bill proposed by Mr. Fayose for 2016. The budget contained N24 billion and N44 billion for capital and recurrent expenditures, respectively.

With a dwindling federal allocation and less than N300 million internally-generated revenue, the agrarian state is projected to have a budget shortfall of about N46 billion at the end of the year.

Source: Premium Times
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