There was confusion yesterday at Ekiti State secretariat when some labour leaders chased out workers and declared an indefinite strike over unpaid salary.
The unionists, who were followed by other workers, also passed a resolution dissolving the state councils of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC).
Acting under the aegis of Ekiti Workers Rescue Team (EWRT), the protesting labour leaders and workers were led by former chairmen of NLC and TUC, Ayodeji Aluko and Kolawole Olaiya.
The placard-carrying protesters slammed the incumbent NLC Chairman Ade Adesanmi and his TUC counterpart, Mr. Odunayo Adesoye, of compromising workers’ interest for personal benefits.
They noted that owing core civil servants arrears six months, local government workers for six months and pensioners for eight months without any serious commitment to offset the backlog is “immoral, ungodly and unacceptable”.
The union leaders observed a minute silence in honour of workers who died in the last four years due to the hardship unleashed on them by government failure to pay their salary and other entitlements.
Some of the protesters’ placards read: “Fayose’s wicked government must go”; “Workers are eating from dustbin”; “Bread-and-butter unionism is counterproductive”; “Fake labour leaders must go”; “We are dying of hunger”; “It is strange for labour leaders to be defending government,” among others.
Addressing workers during the protest, Aluko said it was wicked of the Ayodele Fayose administration to pay six months salaries and furniture allowance to political office holders and refuse to offset the arrears he owed the workers and pensioners.
He said: “Today, we are dissolving the executives of NLC and TUC in Ekiti and they stand dissolved. This is because their leaders, Ade Adesanmi and Odunayo Adesoye, have lost their values. They are no longer talking about the welfare of the workers they were elected to defend.
“We decided not to do this protest before election so that they won’t read political meanings to it. Workers have died, just because they were not paid. In 2014, Governor Fayose said any governor who owed just a month salary because he was building infrastructure was not worth being a governor.
“Today, the governor is owing pensioners 10 months, local government workers eight months and civil servants and teachers are owed six months. We are not fighting Governor Fayose but he must pay the workers.
“Shortly after the election, Fayose quickly paid six-month salaries and furniture allowances of political office holders. Then, what becomes of our teeming workers?
“It was sad that Adesanmi and Adesoye decided to give Fayemi three months moratorium to pay workers when he assumed office. But they are practically doing nothing to ensure that Governor Fayose doesn’t leave office a debtor governor, as he promised.
“We hereby declare an indefinite strike, beginning from today. Only the national secretariats of TUC and NLC can negotiate on our behalf because we no longer trust the state leadership of the two congresses.
“We regret to inform you that after a thorough consultation and proper reviewing of the decision of Ekiti workers’ congress to withdraw their services until all arrears are cleared.
“EWRT hereby toes the line of the generality of workers and resolved as follows:
That all workers in the civil and public service of Ekiti State should embark on an indefinite strike commencing today, Thursday, August 23;
That there should be no skeletal services by any sector of the economy as the strike is total;
That under no circumstance should there be any business transaction in account, bursary and any other department relating to the treasury of Ekiti State.
This will be strictly resisted by workers of Ekiti.”