"I Can’t Sell Myself To Pay Salaries" - Fayose Tells Striking Ekiti Workers
Workers in Ekiti State on Thursday began an indefinite strike over government’s inability to pay five months salary arrears and for failing to refund deductions made from their December 2015 salaries.
The strike brought the state capital to a halt as government offices and public schools remained shut.
But the state governor said for as long there was no money to pay salaries, he would have to wait for the workers to return.
The state councils of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) had on Tuesday last week issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to pay the December deductions amounting to N512million or face industrial action.
But the strike was overtaken by the national strike called by the NLC which was called off on Monday.
Thursday’s strike followed the expiration of a fresh 24-hour ultimatum on Wednesday, after the government’s failure to accede to the workers’ demands.
Other demands of the workers include the release of the staff audit and verification conducted in April 2015; disclosure of the monthly internally generated revenue; payment of arrears of salaries, pension and gratuities; payment of September 2014 salary to primary school teachers; and payment of 2014 and 2015 leave bonuses.
The workers are also asking the government to implement the promotion for 2013, 2014, 2015; approval of inter-cadre transfer; remission of 10 percent IGR to local government and stoppage of Joint Allocation Committee account; resuscitation of LG staff pension fund and release of running grants to secondary schools and local governments.
“Your Excellency Sir, we have remained calm since these days hoping that respite will soon come our ways, but hope is becoming a mirage. Besides, there is a limit to endurance,” said the labour leaders, in a letter addressed to the state governor, Ayo Fayose.
The governor, while responding to the strike, said the state only got N751million allocation from the federation account.
“I know workers have not been coming to work, but I don’t have the moral right to stop them . But I can only deploy what I receive from the federation account,” Mr. Fayose said.
“If workers want to go on strike, I sympathize with them but we will be here waiting till when they come back. I can’t sell myself to pay workers. Even the government house where I live does not have diesel to power generator at times.
“I want the workers and members of the public to show understanding. This is not about Ekiti, it is an issue that affects all of us.”
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