The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC, has warned Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, that the prevailing atmosphere of industrial dispute in the state could snowball into major industrial conflict between Labour and government if his government failed to step back and embrace meaningful dialogue to resolve the lingering issues with the unions.
To this end, the NLC headquarters, offered to be of assistance in making the engagement between the unions and government, to amicably resolve the dispute possible, adding that the lingering major industrial conflict is very avoidable.
The NLC gave its position in a letter written to Governor Amosun, dated October 27, and titled: “Re: Political agitation by organized Labour in Ogun State: Request to call Labour politician to order.” The congress letter to the governor was a reply to earlier letter written by Gov. Amosun to the NLC, in Abuja.
But the congress expressed surprise at the stance of the state government on genuine agitations of the workers in Ogun State.
The letter signed by the NLC General Secretary, Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson, stated that instead of the state government to create an avenue for dialogue and resolution of the crisis, it is engaging in name-calling which will only exacerbate the problem.
The letter read in part: “We are also surprised to hear that the Nigeria Police have cordoned-off the office of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Ogun State and have resorted to intimidating the Labour leaders in the state. We are also disturbed by attempts being made on the lives of the Labour Leaders in the state.
“The Nigeria Police are expected to be neutral in this matter and are not expected to harass or intimidate workers who are pursuing their legitimate demands recognized by Nigerian Laws.
“The present industrial action embarked on by the workers arose because of the failure of government to fully implement the March, 2016 collective bargaining agreement which led to the suspension of the strike in March. It should also be noted that a valid notice of intention to resume the strike was served on government which failed to avail itself of the period of notice to resolve the issues.”
The NLC restated the premise on which the agitations of the workers are hinged, which include:
- The illegal withholding of deductions from workers salary in the last one year. These include 72 months of unremitted deductions of contributory Pension, Cooperatives deductions and other bank repayment loans as well as 12 months union check-off dues;
- Unpaid gratuities of retirees for the last 2 years;
- Sixteen months of unpaid workers’ salaries of the state-owned Tai-Solarin College of Education;
- The abolition of the Joint Account on Allocation Committee which has made salaries of Local government workers to be paid behind schedule.
The congress reminded Gov. Amosun that all attempts made by the unions in Ogun State to amicably resolve the issues through dialogue with the state government have not been successful.
It added that not even the intervention of revered traditional rulers like Obas and other well-meaning citizens of the state could help change the position of the state government.
The letter also read: “It is apparent that the withholding of these deductions and non-payment of gratuities and salaries of the affected workers have grossly affected meeting their basic needs and rendered their savings fruitless and ineffective.
“We are of the view that the prevailing atmosphere of industrial dispute, which could snowball into a major industrial conflict between labour and government, is avoidable if government could step back and embrace meaningful dialogue to resolve the lingering issues with the unions.
“If it becomes necessary, the NLC offers to be of assistance in making this engagement possible between the unions and government. It will be recalled that in pursuance of this bridge-building process, we had written Your Excellency on October 17, on the above subject but the letter was returned to us un-opened.
“While hoping that you will give due consideration to our observations and suggestions, kindly accept the renewed assurances of our goodwill and best wishes.”