James Sowole in Akure
The enforcement team of the strike declared by the organised labour in Ondo State over non-payment of five months salaries arrears by the state government wednesday harassed and flogged workers who defied the strike order.
Specifically, some workers of the state Board of Internal Revenue and Local Government Service Commission, who reported for work despite the organised labour’s order incurred the wrath of the enforcement team.
The Permanent Secretary of the board was not spared as his newspapers were seized by the team that monitored the strike.
The commencement of the indefinite strike paralysed official activities in offices, hospitals and public schools in the state.
All the public schools and government offices in the state were under lock and keys as some students who thought the strike would not take pace were turned back at the gate of the schools.
Addressing journalists in Akure, the state capital, Chairman, state Joint Negotiating Council, (JNC), Sunday Adeleye, expressed regret that nonpayment of five months salaries had led to the death of two workers this week in Ondo town and Akure, while female teacher was caught stealing garri in Okitipupa last week.
Also, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Bosede Daramola, said the strike would not be suspended until the state government meets the workers’ demands.
He said it would be morally wrong for the government to be watching its workers dying of hunger and ill-health caused by the nonpayment of salaries.
Sequel to the withdrawal of services by nurses and other health worker from hospitals across the state, families of patients have been advised to relocate their ill family members .
Meanwhile, the state government yesterday urged workers in the state to join in the growing agitation for the restructuring of the country’s system of governance to pave the way for the autonomy of its federating units and enable states carry out its responsibilities without recourse to the federal government.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, who stated this in Akure, said labour unions and workers in the country have serious roles to play in the actualisation of the growing clamour for a workable system of government in the country which will enable states use their resources to address the needs of its people.
Akinmade said if the states are allowed to control their resources, government would be able to pay workers their wage as at when due and the trend of going on strike to press for wages would become a thing of the past.
The government spokesman said if the country was operating a workable system where states are allowed to have control over their resources, a state like Ondo with its ingenuity and capability to create wealth would not be struggling to pay wages.
Akinmade, who urged striking workers in the state to return to work as government is doing everything possible to pay their salary arrears, said government was not ready to hide anything from the workers regarding its finances and that “we will continue to communicate and appeal to our people to show more understanding because we are share in their pain.”
Akinmade said the state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has vowed not to sack any worker, stressing that the government is focusing on the exploitation of its bitumen which he recently secured the licences to explore as this will be a value added to the state revenue base.