Two weeks after he unceremoniously ended the contracts of 10,000 Youth Employment Scheme (YES) workers, Adams Oshiomole, Governor of Edo State called on the YES teachers to return to their posts. This was a reaction to protests by students demanding the return of their teachers as they do not even have enough. In a splendid demonstration of solidarity, the teachers refused to return without action being taken to regularise the position of all other YES staff.
Subsequent to this, a congress of YES staff was held on Tuesday 23rd June and agreed on the call from the Nigerian Union of Teachers and the NLC to give the Governor two weeks to regularise the position of all the YES staff. A further congress has been called for 7th July.
The Police Commissioner of Edo State is defending the actions of his officers in shooting and injuring three YES workers who were peacefully demonstrating to Government House, by untruthfully claiming that they broke the gate.
The YES workers are working closely with the judiciary workers of Edo State who have now been on strike for almost six months – despite their dispute over independence of the judiciary having been settled at the Federal level and in many other states.
The Oshiomole administration is also being criticised for owing money to the local government workers. In late February of this year, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Edo State Chapter, suspended its nearly three-week strike over non-payment of staff salaries and the use of casual workers by local government councils. However a settlement has not yet finally been reached in this dispute.
In addition, staffers of the Institute of Continuing Education (I.C.E) have not been paid for the last two years, when admissions were stopped. The tertiary institution had about 70 percent of the workforce as casual staff. In this case, some workers, including lecturers, worked for the past 12 years without being regularised.
This is shocking behaviour by Oshiomole who is a former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress. But the workers in Edo State are now resolute in their fight. The Nigeria Civil Service Unions Edo State Council Chair has now warned that it will join the avalanche of working class struggle in solidarity, unless governor Oshiomole addresses the demands of all the workers that are striking against his anti-worker administration. As the saying goes: “the workers united will never be defeated!