Strike: Ajimobi threatens to enforce no work, no pay

Governor Abiola Ajimobi

Governor Abiola Ajimobi

As the strike action embarked upon by workers in Oyo state continues, Governor Abiola Ajimobi has threatened to enforce the no work, no pay rule if they fail to resume work.

He, however, appealed to labour leaders to call off the strike to give room for dialogue.

The national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had declared the strike following the non-payment of six months salary arrears to workers in the state.

Ajimobi who spoke with reporters On happenings in the state said the industrial action was ill-advised since labour had no dispute with the government prior to the strike nor gave the government any ultimatum in compliance with labour laws.

He urged the labour leaders to call off the strike to enable “the committed and hardworking ” among the workers to resume in their own interest and the larger interest of the state.

In extending an olive branch to labour, the governor said that the labour leaders must be prepared to apologise for disrupting a stakeholders’ forum where they were also invited to discuss a proposed public-private participatory management of public secondary schools in the state.

Ajimobi said, “I am appealing to them to imbibe the culture of dialogue. We want them to come because we are not quarrelling with labour; we have no dispute that might warrant labour leaders to direct workers to embark on strike.
“We don’t have a problem with them, except for some that are being politically motivated. It is just a few who are using politics and are being influenced by failed politicians who wants to get through the backdoor what they failed woefully to get from the ballot box.

“We are appealing to them to come and dialogue with us. It is the major ingredient of democracy. Consultation, participation, the rule of law and peace that is all we want. But anybody who breaks the law will be prosecuted. We may be forced to apply for the no work no pay from Tuesday if they ignore my appeal.”

Commending workers for their tolerance and sacrifice in the face of delay in salary payment, the governor assured that the situation would improve in the next few months when the result of the ongoing efforts to ameliorate the situation began to manifest.

In the same vein, Ajimobi appealed to pensioners to bear with the government reminding them how he was commended and even given an award as the best pensioner-friendly governor when there was sufficient fund to pay their dues.
He listed some of his achievements to include payment of 13th month salary for an unprecedented three consecutive years, salary increase on three occasions, local and overseas training, free bus shuttle, payment of salaries on or before the 25th of every month as some of the things he did for the workers before the recession set it.

His words, “I am not happy with the situation we found ourselves, even though other states in the country, except Lagos and probably one other, are going through similar challenges of delay in payment of salaries and pensions.
“It is disheartening. I feel for them because I can’t imagine somebody working and not being paid. I also empathise with our senior citizens over the pension arrears. We will overcome these challenges because we are working hard to shore up our revenue base.

“We are plugging the loopholes and leakages at our revenue collection centres because there is a lot of stealing going on. We are also increasing our tax net. And this is an opportunity for me to remind property owners to get prepared for the payment of tenement rate.

“For the sake of emphasis, the situation with pensioners was brought about by the stealing of over N6bn meant for them. We are prosecuting the culprits now. But we won’t say because of that we are not going to pay them. I’m optimistic that things will get better in the next few months.”

On the planned privatisation of public schools, Ajimobi reassured the stakeholders that his administration had no plan to sell or privatise any of the 631 public secondary schools in the state, stressing that the allegation was a figment of the imagination of some opponents of the government.

Judging by the responses so far, the governor said that the state might not have more than 30 schools or thereabout where a partnership might exist with interested stakeholders in the management of the schools.

Ajimobi also stated that the government would spend the about N600m generated from the education level introduced last year for the renovation of the remaining schools when the students embark on the next long vacation.

The governor decried the poor attitude of some parents whom he said were not prepared to contribute anything to the education and development of their children, a situation he blamed for the inability of the government to meet the N1.2bn target from the education levy.

He said, “We are not selling our schools. It is a misconception. We only want to partner with the people in the management of some of our schools, because this has become inevitable judging by the poor state of our economy and the deteriorating condition of our schools.

“We are just discussing this proposal, It is not yet a policy because we have not concluded the ongoing consultations. That is why labour and everyone who wants to partner with us should come and contribute to the discourse.

“Our schools that will not be involved in partnership management are not going to be left unattended. We will renovate them with the about N600m we realised from the education levy. The money is intact. Although it fell short of our target of N1.2bn because some parents are not paying.”

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