Kogi workers begin indefinite strike

Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello

The organized Labour in Kogi State has directed workers in ministries, agencies and parastatals to commence an indefinite strike as from Friday, September 22.

The Chairman of the state chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Ranti Ojo flanked by his Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), counterpart, Mr Onu Edoka gave the order while briefing newsmen in Lokoja On Thursday.

He asked the workers to shun offices indefinitely until directed otherwise.

He said that labour was forced to call out workers on strike because of the refusal of the government to invite them for negotiation over their demands.

According to him, the strike is the only lifeline left for the workers to negotiate their survival in the hands of the administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello.

Ojo directed the workers to ensure maximum compliance, saying that all government establishments, offices, facilities and institutions be shut down by workers.

The organized Labour had on Sept. 13, issued a seven-day strike notice to the state government to meet its demands or risk industrial action by its members.

In its reaction to the notice, the state government through the director-general, media and publicity to the governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo described the tone of the labour’s notice as harsh and described signatories to the notice as unknown.

The state Head of Service, Mrs Deborah Ogunmola made a last minute ditch to halt the strike when she called the Labour leaders for a meeting in her office on Sept. 21.

The meeting, however, failed to stop the workers to declare a strike.

The Labour is demanding among others, full payment of salary and allowances to workers being owed between two and 21 months arrears. The workers are also demanding payment of outstanding leave, yearly incremental allowances and reinstatement of workers unjustly treated during the recently concluded screening exercise.

“Be prepared to stay at home till eternity if it takes the government to eternity to meet our demands,” Ojo admonished the workers.

The Labour lampooned the government for its poor attitude to workers’ welfare, saying that never in the history of the state has civil service records the massive hunger-induced deaths as being witnessed currently.

“Workers and pensioners are going through trauma, anguish, pains, sickness, penury, truncation of children’s education, huge unsettled house rent/medical bills. We must rise against these now or never, he said.

However, he said that only workers under the umbrellas of NLC, TUC, and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council will be marking on the strike while members of the National Union of Teachers, the National Union of Local Government Employees and the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria will join on Sept. 27.

He urged workers to resist any form of threat, intimidation and blackmail from the state government, urging them to put on uncommon courage, perseverance and resoluteness to confront the bad situation.

Ojo asked all civil servants and members of the public to pray in mosques and churches on Sept. 22 and Sept 24 to God to deliver the state from bad governance.

The TUC, NOC and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council will not budge until their demands are met by the government.

“Our fidelity to this struggle is non-negotiable,” the TUC Chairman said and accused the government of insincerity in its dealings with the workers all these years.

The state president of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Mr Tade Adyemi who was also present at the briefing said that teachers, local government workers and workers in the health sector will join the strike on Sept. 27.

Adeyemi said that workers in the sectors issued a separate strike notice to the 21 local government councils in the state who were their employers.

Mr Thomas Ayodele, the state NUT Chairman said that workers at the local government level were solidly in support and party to the strike declared by the TUC, NLC and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council.

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