…Govt’s purse too lean to grant labour’s request –Gov
Labour unions in Kwara State yesterday walked their talk by calling out their members on an industrial action despite a court order stopping them from doing that. The strike action, which commenced yesterday morning, witnessed total compliance by workers of the state.
It will be recalled that the labour unions issued a 14-day ultimatum to the state government within which to implement the new minimum wage of N30,000 for all categories of workers, including local government workers in the 16 local government areas of the state or face industrial action. The ultimatum expired midnight Monday without the state government acceding to their request.
This was as Governor AbdulRahman Abdul- Razaq yesterday said the state’s treasury was too lean to accommodate the demands of the labour unions, which he said would consume its entire resources. AbdulRazaq said while the government was willing to pay the minimum wage as enacted by the parliament, it cannot afford the huge chunk that would go into paying the consequential adjustments for the senior cadres.
“If we accede to the request of the labour, we will not be able to do any other thing other than paying workers. Our schools have collapsed; the basic health facilities need to be fixed; and we need to do much more for the rest of the population too,” Abdul- Razaq said when he visited the dilapidated Banni Community Secondary School in Ilorin. He said the locals said students sit on bare stones in the classrooms, many of which had collapsed or had had their roofs blown off.
The situation in Banni was typical of what existed in most parts of the state, AbdulRazaq said, adding that a state with such huge infrastructural deficits cannot spend 100 per cent of its earnings on paying salaries.
But when our Correspondent visited some government offices yesterday, including the two state secretariats, the Local Government Service Commission, Civil Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, various ministries and the courts, they were all under lock and key. It was the same scenario at public primary and secondary schools visited. Most teachers, in compliance with labour directives, kept off the schools while the few ones who showed up were seen outside discussing among themselves.
Pupils and students who showed up in schools in large numbers were disappointed as there were no teachers to teach them. They were seen playing around the school premises. Speaking with journalists on the strike, NLC Chairman in the state, Aliyu Issa-Ore, expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance by the workers; urging the workers to remain resolute and not be discouraged or disturbed by alleged attacks on their leaders by thugs, he admonished them to continue to remain peaceful and law abiding during and after the strike.