Organise demonstrations and “go slow” strike; government promotes faction
by Segun Ogun
Thousands of workers in Osun State demonstrated at Osogbo, the state capital on March 10, protesting the non-payment of 5 months salaries by the government. The mass action was organised by the Trade Union Congress. The TUC State Chairman, Comrade Akinyemi Olatunji bemoaned the insensitivity of the state government. Olatunji who is also the Osun State Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) Chairman pointed out that, not less than five members of the association had lost their lives over the last few months due to inability to pay their medical bills as a result of the non-payment of their salaries.
Even pensioners are being owed their gratuities and pensions. This significantly contributed to the high number of 98 that have died in recent times, as they had no money to live on. Deductions from workers wages for the contributory pension scheme, cooperatives and union subscriptions since 2013 have also been withheld by the government.
The demonstration against this condemnable situation was just the beginning of the fightback by the TUC. It has also directed its members to embark on a “slow down” strike. Meanwhile, the state government has attempted to stoke up divisions in the ranks of the union. The immediate past Chairman of TUC, Francis Adetunji went on state radio to deny that workers were owed salaries. He has been locked in battle with Olatunji since last year when fresh elections were conducted and Olatunji emerged as Chairman. He still maintains that he is chairman.
The radio broadcast boomeranged as the few supporters Adetunji had, turned against him. To turn the tide, he made a swift volte face and called for a strike. To enforce this, his supporters attacked workers who came to offices at the state secretariat and journalists with bottles, clubs and machetes. The Committee to Protect Journalists decried these attacks, including the thugs seizing of a television station’s camera that was later returned by Francis Adetunji himself.
The national secretariat of the TUC has thrown its weight behind the Akinyem Olatunji-led TUC leadership and its struggle to ensure workers outstanding salaries are paid. Socialist Worker condemns violent attacks by workers against workers and supports the struggle of workers in Osun state and the other 17 states where workers are being owed backlogs of salaries. With struggle, the workers united will win.