N6.3bn Paris refund: Osun workers demand leave bonus, 6 months salaries

Osun state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola
Osun state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola

As Osun government remains silent over its plan on how to expend the N6.3billion second tranche of Paris loan refund, indications emerged on Monday in Osogbo that the workers in the state are demanding the payment of 2015/2016 leave bonuses and six months salaries owed them from the half salaries, being paid to civil servants since July 2015.

Tribune Online exclusively gathered that the workers may be set for a showdown with Governor Rauf Aregbesola if he refuses to accede to their demands.

Though, the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), which is representing the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Osun State chapter and other industrial unions in the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) had earlier met with the government team over their demands, the parley held last week was said to have been deadlocked.

However, credible sources informed our correspondent that the labour was ready to advance its positions, with a view to ensuring that their interests were taken care of in the disbursement of the second tranche of Paris loan refund, which the state government received last week.

According to one of the sources, “we are perfecting our strategies because we want Governor Rauf Aregbesola to give us priority in the allocation of the N6.3billion paid into the coffers of Osun State government. It is our belief that the state government would not let us down. We are not being unmindful of the poor financial condition of the state, but we are making efforts to push our position so that we can we can have our own share from fund.”

Findings by the Tribune Online indicated that both the JNC and Comrade Hassan Sunmonu led funds allocation committee, constituted by Aregbesola’s administration would meet on Tuesday where the labour would re-present their demands.

As of the time of filing this report, our correspondent learnt that the state government had paid the salaries of the civil servants till June, 2017.

Some of the civil workers from Level 1-7, 8-12 and 13-14, who spoke to our correspondent hinted that they have received their salaries for last month, adding that the junior workers from level 1 to 7 have been getting their full salaries, while level 8-12 were being paid 75% and the workers on level 13 to 14 were being paid 50% of their monthly salaries.

When contacted, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lani Baderinwa said availability of funds would determine how government tackle the present financial challenges, adding that “it is fact that Governor Rauf Aregbesola has been placing premium on the welfare of the workers and we cannot afford to treat their collective interests with levity”.

He stated, “The amount we are dealing with regarding the workers’ salaries is huge. It remains to be seen if it can be paid from N6.3billion we received as the second tranche of Paris loan refund. It is the decision of Hassan Sunmonu led funds allocation committee that we will follow. We cannot tow the path of Oyo State that decides to use 60% of the second tranche of Paris loan refund to pay their workers.

“We are not in competition with any state government. You cannot compare our financial obligations and challenges to Oyo State. But, we want to assure that the interest of all the workers would be adequately taken care of in the scheme of things,” Baderinwa remarked.

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