Minimum wage: Osun Labour threatens to beat up anti-union workers

•Govt cautions them to be responsible •Students protest lecturers’ strike

The N18,000 minimum wage crisis is yet to be resolved in Osun State, where a strike has hit the seventh day. Labour leaders are threatening to beat up any worker, who reports at work. Some civil servants reported for work yesterday.

At a meeting held in Fakunle Comprehensive High School yesterday, sources said, labour leaders instructed union members to put horsewhips in their bags and beat up any civil servant, including their senior colleagues, found at work today. The government urged workers to beware of “sponsored agents hiding under the guise of minimum wage agitation.” 

It cautioned them to be responsible and committed to the state’s development.
In a statement, the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy in the Governor’s Office, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said: “It is important to state that as part of government, workers are also responsible for the development of the state and the wellbeing of its citizens, particularly those that are not on government’s payroll.

“It is one of their responsibilities as part of government to ensure that basic infrastructures are made available in all nooks and crannies of the state.” He said as much as the government would want to satisfy the demands of the citizenry, it would be unreasonable to spend all its resources on wages without meeting the needs of other sectors.

“Government has offered full implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage for workers on levels 1-7 and has also agreed to extend the implementation of the agreement to other levels. “With the agreement reached with the leadership of the Organised Labour at last Friday’s meeting, it will cost the government N1.3 billion to pay salaries monthly. 

“If this is added to the N400 million expended monthly on the payment of pensions and gratuities, the overall monthly wage bill will be N1.7 billion; leaving a paltry N100 million for government to meet other obligations (i.e. monthly allocation of government revolves around N1.8 billion). “Given the paucity of funds, not every demand of labour can be met at the same time. It is government’s hope that labour would see reasons and co-operate with it on its proposals on the minimum wage issue.

“This is a workers-friendly government, which is concerned with welfare. But it is also in the interest of workers and the entire people of the state, to allow for developmental projects that will make life more meaningful for all.”

Also yesterday, students of the four state-owned tertiary institutions disrupted traffic and commercial activities in Osogbo, the state capital, for over four hours. The students of the College of Education, Ila; College of Education, Ilesa; State Polytechnic, Iree; and College of Technology, Esa-Oke; in their hundreds, protested the inability of the government and their striking lecturers to reach a meeting point on the minimum wage.

The protesters, who blocked the road from Olaiya junction to Old Garage and Oke-fia with their buses, laid mats on the road and were playing Ludo games. They were also seen observing the afternoon Muslim prayers. Policemen had a difficult time controlling the situation.

State Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Seun Abosede, who led the protest, said their action was aimed at sensitising the people on their plight. He said they had not been receiving lectures and their examinations were around the corner.
“Our future is at stake and it seems nobody cares. Both parties should urgently resolve the minimum wage issue and let us move on with our academics. 

“The wage crisis between the government and workers of the tertiary institutions is affecting us. The indefinite strike embarked upon by the workers would prolong our stay in school,” Abosede lamented. The students also called on the government to prevail on the authorities of the College of Education, Ilesa, to reinstate five of their colleagues that were expelled.

Abosede said the affected students, Oluwaseun Oyelami; Abdulkabir Afolabi; Nurudeen Oladejo; Oluwaseyi Olagunju and Samuel Awowole, were expelled for agitating for a reduction in tuition fees.