Your steps are provocative, indecorous – Ogun govt tells striking workers

The Ogun State Government has described the steps taken by its workers to embark on a one-week strike as provocative and indecorous.

The government also said it was a violation of the principles of collective bargaining, considering the fact that there was an ongoing negotiation between them; insinuating that workers might be acting out a script.

DAILY POST reports that the ongoing strike declared on Tuesday has paralysed government activities across the state.

The organised labour in Ogun is demanding the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage among others.

But, the state government said the commencement of the warning strike in the middle of an ongoing negotiation process came to it as a big surprise, describing it as a breach of faith and existing cordial relationship between the two.

In a statement issued by the Secretary to Ogun State Government, Tokunbo Talabi, on Thursday, it was disclosed that the state government took steps to address the initial grouse of the striking labour, which he said was “the Pension Reform Bill that was passed by the State House of Assembly without sufficient consultation with labour.”

Talabi said a committee was set up by Governor Dapo Abiodun, asking for the contributions of the workers into the bill.

However, he disclosed that “instead of labour’s input into the Pension Reform Bill as agreed, they issued a notice of Trade Dispute with demands that transcended the issue of Pension Reform on September 2.”

“Following receipt of the letter declaring trade dispute and conveying the demands of labour to the Government, His Excellency again mandated the Government Team to invite and engage labour in another round of negotiation.

“The first negotiation meeting was held on Monday, 14 September 2020 and progressed very well such that by the following day, Tuesday, 15 September 2020, the process narrowed down the issues and was seemingly approaching an amicable resolution when the labour team requested for a 30-minute adjournment for their own internal consultation and response on government offers.

“The government team excused themselves from the venue of the meeting (the Head of Service Conference Room) and returned to their offices, awaiting notification from the labour team to resume the negotiation process, as was the case the previous day.

“Rather than the labour team notifying the government team of the conclusion of their internal discussion and resumption of the negotiation, even if they differ on government offers, they left the venue of the negotiation without as much as the courtesy of informing the government team who were waiting for them and then proceeded to declare a deadlock in the negotiation and a one-week warning strike, commencing from Wednesday, 16 September 2020,” it was said.

Speaking further, Talabi said, “This is most unfortunate and a negation of civility and expected ethos that should underpin negotiations between the government 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, he said, lends credence to insinuations that labour may be acting out a script.

According to the Secretary to the Ogun State Government, the “abrupt withdrawal of the labour team and the unilateral declaration of one week strike was unfair, indecorous and violation of the principles of collective bargaining, stressing that “it is a surprise that labour would take the provocative steps it has taken even when the negotiation process was still on.”

While calling on the labour leaders to return to the negotiation table to finalise the narrow areas of difference in the interest of the majority of Ogun State workers who are eager to return to work after the stay-at-home occasioned by COVID-19, Talabi stated that no one envisaged COVID-19, then the State signed the agreement with labour for the implementation of the new minimum wage.

He informed that COVID-19 had a debilitating socio-economic impact that constrained the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State as it also brought about unplanned expenditures in its wake.

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