All government offices in Ekiti State were under lock and key yesterday, as the industrial action declared by workers paralysed governance in the state. The workers, under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) , had embarked on indefinite strike on Thursday to press home for series of demands from the state government.
The unions had last week Tuesday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Governor Ayodele Fayose to pay N512 million being money deducted from December, 2015 salary or face industrial crisis. The strike was later shelved due to the nationwide strike declared to protest hike in fuel price by the federal government.
The workers’ demands are: the release of the staff audit and verification conducted in April, 2015, disclosure of the monthly internally generated revenue, payment of arrears of salaries pension and gratuities, payment of September 2014 salary to primary school teachers, payment of 2014 and 2015 leave bonuses.
Others include: implementation of promotion of for 2013, 2014, 2015, approval of inter-cadre transfer, remission of10% IGR to local government and stoppage of Joint Allocation Committee’s account, resuscitation of LG staff pension fund and release of running grants to secondary schools and LGs.
The labour leaders said: “Your Excellency Sir, we have remained calm since these days hoping that respite will soon come our ways, but hope is becoming a mirage. Besides, there is a limit to endurance”, they said. But reacting to the strike in a televised broadcast yesterday, Fayose said the state was facing serious financial crises that may not enable it meet up with certain responsibilities immediately.
He said workers monthly wage bill is currently over N2 billion whereas federal allocation keeps reducing from almost N3 billion to as low as N751m in April.
“Even before going on their strike, I got to know that many of them no longer come to office while others were going late but why I refused to come hard on those involved was that I had no moral justification to do so since I know we were owing them.
“I can’t stop workers from going on strike, we shall be waiting till when they come back, but they must realise that strike is not the best option,” Fayose said. “Even in Government House, we don’t have money to power generators, whereas, I cannot sell myself or members of my family to raise funds, things are that difficult”, Fayose said.