Members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Oyo state have refused to call off their indefinite strike despite the meeting between labour and the state government on Wednesday.
The workers took the decision at a congress held at the NLC State Secretariat in Ibadan.
Addressing newsmen after the congress, NLC Deputy Presidents, Mr Kiri Mohammed and Mr Peters Adeyemi, said appreciable progress was made at the meeting with the governor as he assured that the charges against the labour leaders in the state would be dropped.
On the new education initiative of the state government, the labour leaders said the governor explained that the idea was misunderstood as there was no plan to hand public schools over to the private sector.
“On the privatization of schools, the governor maintained that he was misinterpreted. That he never had the intention to handover public schools to the private sector. So we said so as to be comfortable, we want to have a formal document to show that he had rescinded the decision but the governor requested that a committee be set up to look into the issue. He said there has to be a committee composed of seven persons representing labour and another seven persons representing government to look at how the new education policy would evolve”
Explaining that the meeting with the governor reached a deadlock on the issues of salaries, Kiri said:
“Owing to the governor’s stand, the labour leaders requested for an adjournment to consider the next option. Afterwards, we reconvened to request that two months be paid immediately, rather than the earlier three months request. But Governor Ajimobi, again, maintained that the state did not have enough funds to venture into such payment, adding that even the payment of one month salary was challenging.
“At this point, our meeting came to an end and that was why we promised him that we will brief our members and get back to the state government.”
Why workers would not call off strike
On why labour would not suspend the ongoing industrial action, Kiri explained:
“We told the governor that it was difficult to ask the workers to return to work without payment of outstanding salaries. We demanded the immediate payment of three months out of the outstanding arrears. The governor said he had no money to pay such. Considering what he said, we requested that two months be paid. He also said that there were no funds for that. He even said that funds available were not sufficient to pay for a month.”
“The congress then resolved that since the governor said that there was no money to pay salaries, the strike should continue until workers are paid. Workers want to eat, they can’t go to office hungry, they want to pay their debts, they need transport fares to go to their offices. How can workers live perpetually in hunger and perpetually on debt? So, we decided that the strike will continue indefinitely until salaries are paid. It is the obligation of the employer to pay employees’ salarie, so he must find a way to pay. We’ve worked for six months, we must be paid”