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No retreat, no surrender, striking Oyo workers insist

Posted by By AKEEB ALARAPE, Ibadan on 2007/07/18 | Views: 326 |

No retreat, no surrender, striking Oyo workers insist

Three members of the Oyo State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) were yesterday arrested by police at the entrance to the secretariat of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

Three members of the Oyo State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) were yesterday arrested by police at the entrance to the secretariat of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

The arrest came at a time the leadership of the NLC in the state declared a ‘no retreat, no surrender’ order on the face-off between the workers and the Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala-led state government over the contentious N9,400 minimum wage for the workers. The strike commenced June 26, 2007.

Daily Sun reliably gathered that a monitoring team of the state workers had swooped on the SUBEB office on the information that some workers have secretly resumed work at the office.

An eye-witness told Daily Sun that the cane-wielding workers disallowed people to enter the office while some vehicles parked within the premises, which were suspected to belong to some civil servants had their tyres deflated.

Sensing crisis, the management of SUBEB were said to have invited the police to rescue them from the anger of the monitoring team, which led to a deployment of two patrol vehicles and later an Armour Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicle to the SUBEB gate which is adjacent the state government house.

Reacting to the arrest of his men, Chairman of NLC in the state, Mr. Basiru Lamidi Apapa, during a press conference, confirmed that those arrested were his members, who, were on their way to the state secretariat and not even among the monitoring team. Earlier at the press briefing, Apapa dismissed allegations that the labour leaders in the state deliberately refused to call off the strike because some politicians were instigating them against the state government.

According to him, the state government had blown away three golden opportunities to resolve the impasse through genuine intervention from the national secretariat of NLC, the committee of former Heads of Service, Secretaries to the State Governments and Permanent Secretaries, led by Chief Theophilus Akinyele and lately the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

Apapa further stated that government’s fresh moves to break the rank of the labour leaders through media hype and ‘massive distortion of facts, misinterpretation and misrepresentation of officers of labour’, would come to nullity. He specifically referred to the alleged statement credited to the Chairman of the Trade Union Council (TUC) in the state, Mr. Bayo Ajayi, that the strike has been suspended, describing it as ‘a blatant and irresponsible lie’ aimed at breaking the labour leaders.

“This is, therefore, to inform you that the strike remains potent, active and focused. The Oyo State government is heading for legal arbitration. We are confident that we are legally on course for no arbitration would derogate from an agreement freely entered into by the contractual parties –Oyo State Labour Movement and the government.

“We wish to reiterate, and this is irrevocable, that on the agreement between the Labour and Oyo State government we stand. It remains inviolate and binding on the parties. The agreement recognizes no individual or political administration but institutions, that is the Labour and the government of Oyo State. This is our stand,” Apapa stated.

Meanwhile, the state government has condemned the Labour’s attack on the SUBEB secretariat, saying the incident went to confirm its earlier posture that the strike was politically motivated.
According to the Special Adviser to the governor on Public Communications, Prince Dotun Oyelade, a minority group of the Labour leaders in the state has constituted ‘a terror gang and unleashing violence on some patriotic workers, who are willing to develop the state in collaboration with government.’

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