Workers’ unions across Oyo State-owned tertiary institutions on Friday began an indefinite strike, demanding the payment of over 15 months salary arrears.
The workers shut the gates to the institutions and staged peaceful protest round their various host communities.
The affected institutions include Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology (OYSCATECH), The Ibarapa Polytechnic and The Polytechnic, Ibadan.
Others are The Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki; The College of Education, Lanlate; and Emmanuel Alayande College of Education (EACOED), Oyo.
Mr Adeniyi Azeez, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee of Trade Unions in all Oyo tertiary institutions, said the strike was inevitable, having explored all other avenues.
“Our resolution is to embark on indefinite strike after the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to government at its meeting of Oct. 19 at Oke-Ogun Polytechnic,’’ he said.
Azeez said that the strike was to actualise the payment of the 15 months salary arrears and the restoration of 100 per cent salary payment.
“The last time we received full salary was December 2015. Since January 2016, we have been receiving 25 per cent salary, which we do call subvention.
The state government had since January 2016 reduced subvention to the institutions to 25 per cent, which also reduced the salary to 25 per cent,’’ he said.
He said that they had lost several of their colleagues due to their inability to manage their health.
According to him, in the last six years of the Ajimobi-led administration, OYSCATECH has not received any fund for infrastructural development.
Mr Segun Aderounmu, the ASUP Chairman, Ibarapa Polytechnic, said that they would not return to work until government pays their 15 months salary arrears and 100 per cent subvention to the institution.
He decried the deduction of 100 per cent tax by the government from the meager 25 per cent subvention to the institutions.
“It is unfortunate that our members cannot feed, manage their health and pay school fees of their wards.
“Internally Generated Revenue of the institution cannot be used to finance the institutions. We have told government about this.
“We are ready for negotiation with government, we are considerate parents but we are bent on the restoration of 100 per cent salary payment,” Aderounmu said..
Similarly, Dr Olatunde Ogundiran, the Chairman, College of Education Staff Union (COEASU), Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate lamented the insensitivity of government to their plight.
Ogundiran also said that their members were going through too much hardship, and they had lost some due to inability to cater for their living.
He said that the situation was as a result the non-payment of their salaries, vowing that the industrial action would be total until government heeds their demands.
Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, however, told newsmen that government was working on the solution to the problem.
“There is no problem that exists on this earth that does not have a solution, so, we are working on the solution.
“I have met with the unions before and we have met with the heads of tertiary institutions and we are also meeting with the NLC on Tuesday.
“We believe that a workable solution would be evolved to solve the current imbroglio. The strike will be called off very soon, once we solve the problem.
“Life is always give and take. We will do some and they will also have to agree with the government to some extent,’’ he said.
Olowofela said that there was no month the government did not give money, adding that the allegation of government owing 13 to 14 month salary was not true.
“If they now lack capacity to meet the obligation, government will look at the possibilities.
“For instance, when you look at the current expenditure as far as The Polytechnic Ibadan is concerned vis-a-vis the money government is charging, it implies that the state government is subsidising each student to the tune of N200,000.
“We will balance it out and things will work out,’’ he said.