Civil servants in Ondo State began a two-day warning strike on Wednesday to press home their demand for the payment of their two-month salary arrears.
When our correspondent visited some government offices in Akure, the state capital on Wednesday, all of them were under lock and key while security men were sighted at the entrance of the Governor’s Office and some ministries to prevent possible breakdown of law and order.
The leadership of organised labour in the state on Tuesday had directed workers to stay at home if the salaries promised by the government were not paid before the close of work, but it was gathered that some of the workers received alerts of one month salary on Tuesday night.
However, the state government described the strike as an embarrassment to the government and an unpatriotic act on the part of the workers since they had started receiving the July salaries.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, condemned the action of the labour leaders as he said since the government had started the payment of salaries, there should be no need of directing the workers to embark on the strike.
He said, “There should be no need for strike, the governor had directed that two-month salaries should be paid, the workers should have exercised patience, the delay may be as a result of bank process.
“They should understand that the two months cannot be paid at the same time, it has to take some time before the second month enter but I am sure that before the end of today (Wednesday) all of them would have received alert of the two months.
“So I see no reason the workers should go on strike if they are not politically motivated.”
To ensure total compliance, the labour leaders, assembled as early as 7:00am on Wednesday on the premises of the Ministry of Finance and moved from one premises to the other, including local government secretariat, hospitals, schools, ministries and parastatals in the state.
The State Chairman of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Mr. Sunday Adeleye, alleged that the government only tried to divide the workers by paying net salary for the month of July to the core civil servants and secondary school teachers and not paying anything to workers in the local government and primary school teachers and other categories of workers.
He accused the government of breaching the agreement reached with the labour leaders at the meeting where it was agreed that gross salaries of July and August and deductions for the period would be paid.
The JNC chairman said the government was also withholding deductions fo the month of July apart from not paying local government workers and primary school teachers.