Facts have emerged on how labour leaders and the Oyo State Government came to an agreement over dispute in salaries after about three weeks of negotiations.
Their late Monday evening agreement brought a two-month old strike to an end.
It was learnt that the seven-member team of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) did not trust government’s claim on the state of Oyo State finances. The government had told the unionists that available funds could not pay more than one month salary.
The labour leaders had demanded payment of minimum of three months salaries as a major condition to call off the strike.
The labour leaders were said to have expressed deep distrust in the figures presented by the government team which actually showed government’s inability to pay salaries due to dwindled federal allocation.
A reliable source close to the negotiators disclosed that based on distrust of government’s claim, the labour leaders insisted on seeing evidence of the facts and figures. They insisted on listening to only the Commissioner for Finance and Accountant General (AG).
To confirm the genuineness of their claims, government representatives, headed by the Secretary to the State Givernment (SSG), Mr Olalekan Ali, invited both the commissioner and the AG to make presentations to the negotiating team.
After asking the two top government functionaries probing questions during their presentations, the labour leaders were said to have confirmed government’s transparency in its claim and management of the state’s funds.
Based on the above, the labour leaders agreed with the government on its position that available funds could not defray more than one month salaries and pensions.
Consequently, they opened discussions on how best to manage available funds for the best interest of both workers and the state.
“During the negotiation, the labour unionists also talked about promotion and leave bonus.” The source said.
It was learnt that the negotiations dragged that long because labour leaders were bringing new issues almost every time they met.
The source added: “They were also concerned about local government finances. They said Oyo State got N84 billion forgetting that local governments got over 50 per cent of the allocation.
“Local governments in Oyo State do not have problems because primary school teachers were paid till May. Primary school teachers were only in sympathy strike. Most local governments don’t owe workers except those with over-bloated workforce.”
There were also altercations on why the government would not obtain bank loan to support salaries. It was learnt that the government had to show the labour leaders the memo with which the Federal Government outlawed it before they agreed.
After much deliberations, both parties agreed on two months salaries with the expectation that the allocation for June will drop within two weeks in addition to the N1.3 billion loan.
The source added: “Having presented the facts and the fact that the state applied for bail-out loan of N1.3b monthly. The bail-out will also be committed to salaries in addition to the 100 per cent of allocation earlier agreed on.
“Given that the Federal Government outlawed states from taking bank loan ps to pay salaries the labour leaders agreed with the government to call off the strike with the promise that they would get salaries within few days of resumption.”
Consequently, government agreed to withdraw the cases in court as another condition for the truce.