Staff unions of the six tertiary institutions owned by the Oyo state government have declared an indefinite strike with effect from (Friday) over 15 months’ salary arrears and the workers’ agitation was also based on fractionalized salary payment system.
All the affected institutions staged a peace walk last Friday to sensitise members of public and to call attention to their plights. The peace walk was declared by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of all trade unions in the six tertiary institutions in the state.
This followed the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum which lapsed on Thursday, November 2, 2017. The workers had earlier threatened to withdraw their services should the state government not clear all outstanding arrears and restore 100 percent salary payment.
The reports across the six institutions revealed that the peace walk went on smoothly as planned. At Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo, members of all the trade unions gathered as agreed and walked across the major routes to express their disaffection over thirteen (13) months unpaid salary arrears.
The spokespersons highlighted that for the past six years, there have been continuous agitation over poor funding of Education by the Oyo State Government. The workers cried out that tertiary institutions have not been receiving capital grant from the state government for the expansion of educational facilities in the state owned institutions. While explaining the reasons for the peace walk, Mr Oyewumi Segun one of the spokespersons of COEASU branch of Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo, said the workers’ patience had been exhausted for the past two years that the government has stopped paying salaries as and when due.
Mr Oyewumi also decried the harsh effects of 25 percent subvention to tertiary institutions as this has resulted to several family disorganization and marriage separation, while many workers have made to become irresponsible parents.
The banners and placards carried by the workers bore different captions and messages; some of the inscriptions were urging the state government to provide seed fund to institutions to help them achieve the goal of self sustainability.
Chairman, Joint Action Committee of all staff unions across the institutions, Mr Babatunde Adeniyi confirmed that management of all the institutions had been served with notification of declaration of strike commencing from Friday which is the follow up action after the peace walk.
The strike action is to be preceded by local protest in the concerned institutions in the case that the government refused to accede the demand of workers: The Polytechnic, Ibadan; Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo; Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology; The Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa; The Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki; College of Education, Lanlate.
Comrade Babatunde Adeniyi was reported to have said “We have declared our strike as our ultimatum lapses 12 midnight today (Thursday). So, effective from tomorrow (Friday) our members are withdrawing their services. We have planned a peace walk and this was to be done by all the institutions in the state.”
The Chairman Joint Action Committee expatiated that workers will return to work immediately the state government paid the outstanding arrears and restored 100 percent salary payment.
“All institutions have served their management with notification of declaration of a strike. Our demands remain payment of 15 months’ salary and restoration of 100 per cent salary payment. We get 25 per cent and payment of fractional salary is illegal. The government has failed to meet our demands. The management’s meeting with the state government on Thursday was not fruitful,” Adeniyi said.
The report from Oke Ogun Polytechnic Saki showed that workers cutting across the various trade unions in the institution had gathered as early as 7am and the peace walk was successful. Throughout the exercise, there was no casualty recorded.
According to investigation, members of staff of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, were actively involved in the peace walk. The spokespersons, Mr. Dotun Ogundeji (SSANIP Chairman), Comrade Kunle Aderogba (NASU Chairman) and Comrade Adeniyi Babatunde (ASUP Chairman) spoke on the plight of workers in the institution. While explaining the reasons for the peace walk, the union leaders emphasized that the state government is owing them fifteen (15) months salary arrears and they are demanding for restoration of 100 percent salary payment.
The Polytechnic Ibadan, Eruwa Polytechnic and Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate equally organized peace walk in their various institutions to appeal to the state government to stop fractionalized salary payments. They also demanded that the government should pay the backlog of salary arrears ranging between 13 months to 15 months across the institutions in Oyo State.
The report gathered revealed that the state government has not been releasing either capital or special grants to the tertiary institutions in the state aside of recurrent expenditures.
One of the Union leaders interviewed, Mr. Dotun Ogundeji, highlighted that a number of tertiary institutions’ workers have been ejected by their landlords for inability to pay rent and there were even cases of attempted suicide and high rates of indebtedness have turned several workers into paupers.
He also stressed that the idea of 25 percent subvention to tertiary institutions was not only killing, evidence abound that none of the institutions can survive without adequate funding by the state government.
Comrade Dotun Ogundeji called on all the stake holders in education and well meaning Nigerians to help the workers appeal to the state government to have a rethink over the self sustainability policy introduced as this could only be realizable If seed fund could be provided for expansion of facilities and investment and adequate gestation time given for the institutions’ investments to flourish.
The Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela in a media chat and in response to the workers’ agitation assured that the state government will soon find lasting solution to the lingering labour disputes.
He pleaded that workers in the tertiary institutions should suspend the strike and allow the state government time to address the demands of the workers. However, workers are adamant arguing that even before issuance of the 14 days ultimatum expired, series of letters, appeals, lobbying and negotiations had been explored to avert the strike but the insensitivity of the government eventually made the strike becomes inevitable.
The workers however have commenced full blown strike despite the plea by the Honourable Commissioner for Education with effect from Friday, 3rd November 2017 since the State Government has failed to meet the workers’ demands.
Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora
- M.B 10, Igboora,
First published by thelinks.com.ng