By NBF News
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Government business in Edo State was yesterday grounded following an indefinite strike embarked on by organized Labour in the state.

According to a statement jointly signed by chairmen of the state Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC), Messrs Emma Ademokun, Joe Aligbe and Shaka Otoide, the labour unions took the action after the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum it issued the state government to address the non-inclusion of teachers, non-teaching staff, staff of the ministry of justice, judiciary staff and others in the implementation of the recently approved minimum wage.

Other issues raised in the statement were that the implementation of the minimum wage should commence from April and not June.

Besides, Labour had cited alleged imposition of arbitrary taxation on workers, non-implementation of salary relativity to the workers, non-release of promotions from 2008 till date and non-regularization of casual workers appointed in the state as reasons for the indefinite strike.

Other reasons adduced by organized Labour in the state for the indefinite strike included non-democratization of local government administration and non-remittance of 10 per cent state IGR to local government councils and alleged unconditional deductions from local government statutory allocations as well as non-reopening of Edo Line and reinstatement of Edo line workers.

'Consequent upon the failure of Edo Sate Government to address the ultimatum earlier issued, the entire Edo State government work force is hereby directed to commence an indefinite strike action with effect from Wednesday, August 3, 2011,' the statement said.

It further directed that public sector workers 'are to remain at home and await further directives from organized Labour in Edo State. If government refuses to heed  the call of organized labour after one week of this strike, workers in the private sector and Federal Government establishments in the state shall join the strike action.'

Following the directive, all public offices were placed under lock and key when our correspondent visited.

Reacting to the strike, the Edo State Government described it as illegal.

Addressing a press conference in Government House yesterday, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, said the strike did not follow due process.

He explained that the minimum wage agreement made provision for all sectors of the state public service, adding that the teachers, who embarked on strike, failed to approach government with their demand for negotiation, even as he said the state government was the first to implement the minimum wage with arrears from June.