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Keep our agreement for industrial peace, labour tells Kogi govt

The organised labour in Kogi State has urged the state government to respect the agreement it entered with the organised labour before the suspension of its industrial action so as to avoid another round of industrial unrest. 

State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Onuh Edoka and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Comrade Ranti Ojo in a joint statement in Lokoja on Wednesday accused the government of reneging on some of  the key terms reached with labour in November last year. 

The labour leaders particularly expressed worries over statement credited to the state government that it has cleared salaries arrears owed to civil servants up to December, 2017.

They said the available records show that "government unilaterally paid 60% and 40% salaries to the state and local government workers from August to December, 2017 without any consultations with the organised labour.

Labour said that the arrears due to some staff owed between 6 to 22 months before August 2017 are still hanging and wondered why the state government would engage in such a misleading statement that all workers have been paid up to date.

The organised labour equally raised concerns at the pronouncement of Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello that the government borrowed sum of N10 billion to pay salary arrears "when it is evident that the state government collected over 6 billion Naira Paris Club refund in addition to the monthly allocations of October and November 2017", arguing that "the three sums, ordinarily could have been enough to pay full salary to all categories of staff going by the wage bill of 2.6 billion Naira presented by the state government". 

The organised labour therefore described the Governor’s pronouncement that workers have been paid up to December 2017 as a "mere political statement that cannot be justified".

The unions said the state government has been taking workers and their views for granted when it comes to consulting the leadership of the unions on the matters that affect the welfare of the workers.

The organised labour said that the pronouncement by the Governor in his new year broadcast that the "clock-in-clock-out device" would be used as a means of computing January salary is another affront to the patience of Kogi workers since the issue of the device was part of the November 2017 agreement reached with the government.

According to them, the unions agreed with the government that a committee be set to monitor the effectiveness of the device in the first three months after which a report of it would be studied by both government and labour before the next line of action.

"As at today, no such committee has been instituted to monitor the effectiveness of the machine and government has gone to town saying it would be the basis for computing workers’ salaries which is a clear violation of the Minimum Wage Act of the National Assembly and attempt to casualise Kogi workers", labour said. 

The leaders appealed to the state government to give Kogi workers respite after the trauma they went through in the hands of the government in the course of the screening exercise by paying the outstanding arrears owed to certain categories of workers and also paying the 40% and 60% balance of August to December 2017 salaries to the state and local government employees.

"The organised labour would also want to put on record  that labour in Kogi State is not on any ego trip with government or an arm of any political party in the state but just a body in the forefront of ensuring a better treatment for members of the state workforce", labour said.

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