AGENE GODWIN, Benin
Tension has heightened in Edo state as the Organized Labour threatens to embark on a mass protest and begin an indefinite strike action if Governor Godwin Obaseki fails to meet their demands within seven days.
This was contained in a statement issued by an enlarged State Executive Council meeting of the Labour movement made up of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiation Council (JNC).
It rejected the implementation of the contributory pension scheme which it said was done in ‘flagrant and total disregard to due process and rule of law.’
The Labour movement called on Governor Obaseki to urgently stop what it termed “unlawful deductions” from workers’ salaries and maintain status quo ante in the interest of industrial peace and harmony in the state.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, State Chairman of NLC, Emmanuel Ademokun, condemned the non-utilization of about N11.3bn Paris Club refund received by the state government for the payment of outstanding workers’ pension and emoluments.
Comrade Ademokun called on Governor Obaseki to immediately use the Paris Club refund to pay local government workers whose salary arrears range from between four to 14 months.
Other categories of workers to be paid from the fund according to Ademokun are staff of Tayo Akpata University and Colleges of Education in the state, Judiciary staff who are owed seven months’ salary arrears, pensioners in both the state and local government and the 2016 Leave Transport Grant owed Primary School Teaching and non-teaching staff.
Ademokun also called for the opening of the State Pension Board and payment of arrears of salaries owed staff of the Pension Board since December, 2015.
According to him, “Organised Labour in Edo State can no longer repose confidence and trust in the administration of Mr. Governor because his policy decisions are anti-workers and therefore repugnant to the principle of natural justice, equity and good conscience.
“The State Government should open the window for a more comprehensive dialogue with the leadership of organized Labour in the state towards having a more reliable, dependable, transparent, purposeful and accountable Contributory Pension Scheme in the state.
Ademokun gave Governor Obaseki till Sunday February 12 to meet the workers’ demand or face mass protest on February 13 to be followed by an indefinite strike action on the 14th of February.
When contacted for comments, Interim Chief Press Secretary to Obaseki, Mr. John Mayaki said the Governor would soon address journalists on the matter.
As at press time, Governor Obaseki was yet to speak on the issues