The Kogi State Government has declared its readiness to ensure the industrial peace enjoyed in the state is not threatened by any industrial action by the organized labour.
Reacting to the threat by labour to go on an indefinite strike in Kogi State, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo said all “measures will be put in place to ensure workers continue to carry out their legitimate duties to the people of the state”.
“We received a letter from some people who claimed to be speaking for our workforce. None of the signatories to the letter was a civil servant. This is a clear departure from the communications we have had with the organized labour. Labour in the state has known leaders that we have been relating with.
“As a responsible government, we are duty bound to investigate the actual source of the letter because the language, tone and content of the letter are at complete variance with our understanding and relationship with labour.
“The two main demands of labour are the repudiation of the clock-in-clock-out system to stem the menace of truancy and ghost workers. At the last meeting with the Governor, labour agreed with government on the need to put the system in place in order to ensure effective and efficient service delivery to the people.
“The feedback we are getting from the system is quite impressive and truancy is gradually becoming a thing of the past in the state. But rather than hail the introduction of the system; ‘labour’ has come out to clearly backtrack on their earlier agreement.
“This is the more reason we need to investigate the letter to determine its source. Leaders of workers are expected to be highly informed and enlightened enough to know that the system is not tantamount to casualization of the civil service.
“It will be unfortunate if any responsible union will want to stop what will be of service to the people and a massive advantage to the workers they claim to lead”.
Fanwo said labour leaders should not tie the destiny of the civil servants to the “reluctance of some of them” to return to their places of work.
“Labour leaders must show deep patriotism and responsibility to the people they are employed to serve. They must not kill a system because they feel it will expose their unwillingness to report to their duty posts. Leaders must lead by example at all times.
“An average civil servant in Kogi State wants to work and earn a living. We urge labour leaders to support this great aspiration”.
He called on labour to consider “contributory pension” as the solution to the challenges facing pension administration in the state.
He said, “As a responsible government, we involved labour in the contributory pension processes. Labour was represented in the Committee for the implementation and they played a big role in sensitizing the workers on the benefits of the scheme. For them to turn around to suddenly disagree with the implementation of the scheme is disappointing and a betrayal of the workers who have seen the scheme as the solution to their pension woes.
“Strike should be seen as the last resort in industrial disputes resolution. It is unfair to the people of Kogi State to pollute the atmosphere of peace pervading the state since the inception of this administration”.
The Director General said government will “explore every means known to law to avert the strike in the interest of Kogi people”. He said the state paid half salary to some categories of workers due to the low allocation to the state from the Federation Account.
“We had no choice than to pay half salary for the month of July due to the low allocation received last month. We invited labor and placed everything on the table. We are running a transparent government. As soon as things improve, we shall pay the balance of the July and August salaries. We are effectively owing half of July and August in full as acclaimed by labour itself to silence those who are staging campaigns of calumny against the state.
“Labour should beware of politicians who are trying to use them to destabilize the state. A politicized labour is dangerous to the welfare of workers”.
Fanwo urged labour leaders to withdraw their threat to unsettle the state and engage the “listening government in peaceful dialogue”.
“Our doors are open to labor for peaceful dialogue and resolution of their fears for positive change. The reforms of the civil service is one of the top priorities of the present administration. Our intention is to make the civil service attractive and highly motivated. Our system is aimed at ensuring that only those who work are paid. We will not compromise the unprecedented achievements we have recorded in this sector”.