By OLAWALE JOKOTOYE
ABEOKUTA- Government activities were on Tuesday grounded in Ogun as civil servants began indefinite strike over non-remittance of 21 months deductions from their salaries and other related issues.
The development followed the expiration of the seven days ultimatum issued on June 21 to Gov. Dapo Abiodun within which he was expected to address their grievances.
The workers, had in a letter accused the government of non-remittance of 21 months salary deductions, eight years of unpaid statutory leave allowances and breach of the state Pension Reform Law, 2006 (amended 2013) in the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme.
It was jointly signed by the state Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Emmanuel Bankole; Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Akeem Lasisi and the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), Isa Olude.
Following the expiration of the ultimatum, the labour leaders on Monday addressed workers at the state Secretariat in Abeokuta where they declared an indefinite strike.
Bankole, while addressing the workers, said that the state government had failed to yield to labour’s several calls for negotiation.
A correspondent of NAN, who monitored the situation in Abeokuta, reports that the entire Secretariat at Oke Mosan was deserted by workers, with only top civil servants including, Permanent Secretaries and Directors, seen at their duty posts.
One of the two entrance gates at the Secretariat was locked, while the other was opened to allow only the top civil servants access to the premises.
In some of the schools visited students were seen trekking back home having been sent back by labour officials who were going round to enforce compliance with the directive.
At the state High Courts, Kobape and the Magistrates’ Courts at Isabo, the offices remained under lock and key, while some litigants were seen going up and down outside the court premises.
NAN reports that the situation was the same in Ota and other council areas in the state where activities at government establishments were paralysed.
Commenting, Mr Samson Oyelere, the State Secretary, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), told NAN at the Secretariat that the strike remained total and indefinite.
“The strike is total and it is gradually gathering momentum, because the news might not have gone that viral as such.
“However, within the next two days, it will be more assertive,” he said.
Oyelere explained that the reason for the strike was to drive home workers’ requests for improved welfare in Ogun.
“We know that it will affect vital establishments like hospitals and schools, and for this reason, the citizens will also bear the brunt of the strike.
“It’s not about the citizens, it’s about the government of the day. We need to challenge the government to do the needful,” he said.
Also, Lasisi told NAN that there was total compliance with the directive.
“I have visited hospitals, schools, local government areas and the state secretariat.
“It is a total compliance, because the strike was not declared by the leadership, but by the parliament of workers in the state.
“We carried the workers along and we did what they wanted.
“I only want to appeal to the government to please look into the demands and do the needful,” he said.(NAN)