Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Thousands of local government workers yesterday stormed the streets of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, to demand for the immediate implementation of the N19,300 minimum wage as approved by the Federal Government.
But, the state government affirmed that it would continue to attach utmost priority to the welfare of its workers.
Wednesday’s protest was also followed with the declaration of an indefinite strike by the workers, who vowed not to call off the strike until their demands were met by the government.
The protesting workers, who took off from their secretariat as early as 9.am moved from there through Bashiri-Oke-Isha and Oja-Oba.
Carrying placards of various inscriptions, the workers were guarded by heavily armed policemen on a march to the popular Fajuyi Park , where they were addressed by the representative of the state governor, who was said to be out of the town.
However, the protest took another dangerous dimension when a number of anti-riot mobile policemen dispersed the motley crowd of protestants with carnisters of teargas when it was believed to be getting out of control.
The workers, under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Workers (NULGE), that had accused the state government of being non-challant attitude to the plight of the council workers had initially converged on their state secretariat along Ado-Iyin road where they mobilised to some major streets in the town.
According to them, despite the expiration of the 21-day, seven-day and three-day ultimatum given to the government with which to implement the payment of the wages, including the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS) to local government health workers.
Addressing the workers earlier, Mr. Dele Ajayi, National Treasurer of the NULGE, Mr. Oluyemi Esan; and Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Mr. Ayodeji Aluko, told the workers who trooped out enmasse that they would do everything to ensure that the wage is paid to Council workers.
Meanwhile, the state government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Apalara Wole-Adewumi, expressed regret that despite the agreement reached with the state chapter of NULGE on the payment of the minimum wage to council workers, a section of the workers went ahead to stage a protest.
Adewumi expressed dismay that a section of NULGE members have succumbed to cheap blackmail by allowing themselves to be used by some disgruntled politicians to disturb the existing peace in the state under the leadership of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The commissioner warned the leadership of NULGE to stop any further protest as “government cannot be intimidated through any acts that could lead to the breach of public peace.”
He said: “It is on record that Government had agreed to pay N19,000 minimum wage to Local Government Employees and the agreement was about to be signed when a false accusation emanating from NULGE’s letter against the Governor was published to the effect that a sum of N1 billion was being deducted illegally from the local government funds.
“NULGE is equally aware that the financial implication of the new wage has not been determined before the union issued the notice for three-day ultimatum.
“It is also on record that the leadership of NULGE and Government representatives agreed on a meeting slated for 1pm on Tuesday 11th September, 2012 following the notice of three-day ultimatum but the union backed out of the meeting even without notice.”