We Inherited N106.9bn Unpaid Welfare Debt, Ogun Tells Workers

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Ogun State government has called on the representative of the organised labour in the state, to return to the negotiation table to finalise the grey areas of the demand for better welfare for the workers and in the interest of the generality of the people of the State.

A statement issued yesterday by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Adetokunbo Talabi, noted that government considered the abrupt withdrawal of the labour team and unilateral declaration of one-week strike as unfair, indecorous and violation of the principles of collective bargaining, adding that it was a surprise that labour would take the step even when the negotiation process was still on.

The statement informed the labour that the state government inherited N106.9billion unpaid welfare package.

Tracing the genesis of the crisis to the Pension Reform Bill, passed by the State House of Assembly ,which labour noted did not seek their opinion and inputs, Talabi said the government, after due apology for the lapses, set up a team to liaise with the House of Assembly and representatives of labour to trash out arreas of concerns.

He said government was taken aback as “labour manifested brinkmanship, where instead of labour input into the Pension Reform Bill as agreed, they issued a notice of trade dispute with demands that transcended the Pension Reform Bill”.

The SSG said on receipt of trade Dispute Notice, government mandated its team to engage the Labour with the first meeting held on September 14 progressing to September 15, 2020, were issues were narrowed and approaching amicable resolutions.

But surprisingly, he said, instead of notifying government of the outcome of the meeting the Labour leaders took excuse to attend to their members in order to conclude the negotiation, only to proceed to declare the meeting deadlock and announced the commencement of warning strike the next day (Wednesday, September 16, 2020).

“This is most unfortunate and a negation of civility and expected ethos that should underpin negotiations between government (particularly one that has demonstrated in many ways its commitment to staff welfare) and organised labour who are presumed partners in the task of developing the state and catering for the welfare and wellbeing of all citizens and residents. This behaviour lends credence to insinuations that labour may be acting out a script,” he said.

The past administration, he said, only remitted the deductions from staff salary for check off dues and cooperative deductions in the twilight of its exit, leaving out accumulated Contributory Pensions.