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DSM welcomes NLC rejection of half salaries in Osun State …urges Aregbesola to pay full salaries without retrenchment

By The Citizen
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The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter welcomes the decision of the Osun State Council of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to reject the obnoxious and illegal half salary policy being implemented by the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

The rejection was made during a press conference organized by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Osun State.

A press statement by DSM, signed by the State Co-ordinator, Alfred Adegoke and Kola Ibrahim, Secretary said that “by this half-salary policy, the government has been paying half of the legitimate salaries to workers since July 2015.

“We in the DSM had severally called on the labour movement and workers in Osun State and nationally to reject this illegal salary arrangement which tend to shift the burden of the government's mismanagement of the state economy and resources on the workers by illegally reducing their salary.”

“We of the DSM believe that the leadership of labour movement in the state should not have initially agreed that its members should be shortchanged even for a day by the government under the guise of economic downturn.

“Thus, accepting payment of half salary to workers for three months, as claimed by NLC leaders, is wrong in the first instance. It will be recalled that workers, through non-payment of salaries for seven months in late 2014 and 2015, had earlier being made the scapegoat of mismanagement of the state resources by the Aregbesola government. Therefore, it is wrong of labour movement leadership to accept half salaries for workers even after the state government had used workers' name to collect N34.9 billion bailout fund from federal government.

“To add insult to injury, the government did not pay the half-salaries regularly, a situation that put workers in serious financial strain.  For instance, despite paying half salaries, government has not paid workers and pensioners for the first two months of this year. Currently, many workers cannot meet their basic financial responsibility including payment of school fees of children, while many sick workers and their family members cannot meet their medical bills.

“Therefore, if the leadership of NLC in Osun State has realized the futility of the so-called Memorandum of Understanding it had with the government that was the basis of this half-salary malady, it should be welcome. We also agree with the labour leaders that the economic woes of the state are caused by government of Aregbesola and its officials who are peddling the half-salary half-truth.

“On this basis, we call on the leadership of NLC not to limit the rejection of the half-salary policy to mere press conference or sit-at-home, but to start the process of mobilizing workers to the arena of struggle in order to compel the government to pay full salaries of workers and arrears of existing half salaries. If the labour movement leadership does not mobilize workers for struggle, rejection of half salary can even become an excuse for the government not to pay any salary at all.

“It will be recalled that failure of labour leaders to wholeheartedly fight non-payment of salaries in the first half of 2015 throug mass mobilization of workers, led to terrible degeneration of living conditions of workers, which subsequently led to the labour leaders accepting the half-salary policy, albeit without workers' democratic consent.

“Consequently, we call on labour leaders to begin mass mobilization of workers for struggle if the Aregbesola government refuses to pay the full salaries of workers without retrenchment. As a start, we call on labour leaders to call a General Congress of Workers in Osun State to deliberate on the next line of action on this issue. 

“We in the DSM call for an immediate 24-hour warning strike with mass protests and rallies across the state. By this action, workers will be sending the correct signal to the Aregbesola government on this issue. Moreover, we call on labour leadership in Osun State to show support for the striking doctors in the state, who have not been paid since September 2015. Also, we call for support for lecturers in the state polytechnics and colleges of education, who are fighting mass retrenchment of workers in these institutions.

“Conclusively, we call on the House of Assembly to order total reversal of the obnoxious and condemnable sack of hundreds of workers in the state-owned polytechnics and colleges of education in Osun State.

“We consider the partial recall of few of the sacked lecturers as a piecemeal concession that is too little. If the House of Assembly wants to help Osun State, it should not just order total reversal of the sacked workers but also demand adequate staffing of these educational institutions and proper funding of these institutions which the Aregbesola government and its predecessor neglected for years”, the statement added.