Moshood Adebayo, Abuja, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure, Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Rally organised to celebrate workers’ day in Lagos, yesterday, was almost marred as members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) protested the absence of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his deputy, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule in Agege Stadium, venue of the programme.
State NLC chairman, Funmilayo Sessi, set the stage for the protest during her address when she drew attention to the governor’s absence.
Sessi lamented that the governor and his deputy never gave reasons for their absence even when the date had been set long before now to assist everyone in adequate planning.
“But it is to our dismay that the elected officials have decided not to honour us. We do not know the reason for their action. We are not happy with this attitude. This is a date that has been set for over 100 years before now to celebrate workers that contributed their energy and resources towards development of the country.
“Holding public office is holding public trust. This is a trust that has been bestowed on them by the electorate,” she noted.
Workers of the Lagos State University, LASU and the Lagos State Polytechnic, LASPOTECH, who were demanding the removal of their chancellor and rector, immediately joined the protesters.
They alleged that the state government had refused to address their grievances after several letters and violated laid down procedures for proper administration of the affected institutions.
The celebration, which initially started on a peaceful note was disrupted for about 30 minutes after which security agents and government officials appealed to the LASU and LASPOTECH staff for understanding.
Deputy Chairman, Joint Action Front (JAF), Achike Chude, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved staff demanded the removal of LASU vice chancellor, Olanrewaju Fagboun and LASPOTECH rector, Samuel Sogunro.
Meanwhile, Ambode has commended labour unions for their understanding and cooperation in the last four years which he said, had ensured industrial harmony.
He attributed the industrial harmony and peace in the state to the maturity and cooperation of labour unions and applauded them for adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms rather than resort to industrial actions.
The governor, who was represented by Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye, said his administration had prioritised workers welfare and worked closely with union leaders to address policy and infrastructure issues.
In a related development, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu assured Ondo State workers of government’s readiness to pay N30,000 minimum wage.
“This government will pay minimum wage as approved by law. I can say it categorically that what you have today as your take home can hardly take anybody home. The new minimum wage is non-negotiable.
“We, however, admonish our colleagues in service to reciprocate all the good gestures of the government and the sacrifices made by those who are not employed by the state to rededicate themselves and embrace the best practices for progress.
He described labour as the bedrock of development in any nation and commended the labour unions for their support so far, adding that his administration is determined to keep to its campaign promises.
Meanwhile, the outgoing governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has approved the immediate payment of all outstanding salary deductions of the state’s workforce running into 18 months and backlog of four years leave bonuses.
Amosun also directed the full payment of workers’ salary for the month of April, which he said is in excess of N20. 2 billion be paid without any deduction.
The governor made the announcement while delivering his speech at the year 2019 Workers’ Day celebration held at the M.K.O Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta.
He explained that decision was in consonant with his earlier promise that his administration would settle all outstanding workers’ salary deductions which included cooperatives, check-off dues, Christmas and shilling funds before the expiration of its tenure.