The Nigeria Labour Congress has vowed to resist the dismissal of the Ogun state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Akeem Ambali, and his Vice-Chairman, Dare Ilekoya, who is also the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, by the State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun.
The Ogun State Government also dismissed 14 workers and suspended 18 others, who are mostly teachers, for alleged misconduct during the 2016 World Teachers’ Day celebration on October 5, 2016, in Abeokuta.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said on the telephone on Tuesday that the decision of the state governor was an illegality, which the labour movement would resist.
Ozo-Eson said a combined team of labour leaders from the NLC and the Trade Union Congress had been dispatched to Abeokuta to intervene in the matter.
The NLC’s scribe, who called on the governor to reverse the decision to dismiss workers, stressed the action could result in industrial crisis in the state.
He said, “Well, clearly, the purported sacking is rejected by us in the congress. There are issues that have been outstanding between organised labour in the state and the government and instead of the government to deal with the issues, it is going on high-handed decision to sack people; that can’t be.
“Today, our team is already in the state to talk with them. But clearly, the purported sacking is unacceptable and it is irregular, and we will resist it.
“The NLC and the TUC’s combined team has already been dispatched to the state to intervene in the matter.”
When asked what the organised labour would do if the governor refused to recall the sacked workers, he said, “It means he has declared an industrial war and we will have no choice but to also ensure that industrial peace does not return to the state because such a sacking is illegal and we cannot allow it to happen.”
Also, the embattled state chairman of the NLC, Ambali, said the National President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba; his TUC counterpart, Boboi Kaigama, and the leaders of the National Joint Negotiating Council would attend a rally by labour in Abeokuta on Wednesday (today).
The rally, he said, would hold at the state secretariat of the NLC on Abiola Way in the capital city.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone on Tuesday, the labour leader stated that Wabba, Kaigama and the national president of the NJNC among others, would be in the state to address the workers.
The state chairman, TUC, Olubunmi Fajobi, also confirmed that apart from the national presidents of the NLC, TUC and JNC, the national presidents of NULGE and the NUT would also be at the rally.
Organised labour, made up of the state chapters of the NLC, TUC and the JNC, had ordered workers in the state to proceed on an indefinite strike demanding payment of 12 months unions’ check-off dues; 12 months of deductions of bank loans repayment, cooperative savings and Ileya/festival savings.
Other demands of the workers are the remittance of the workers’ contributory pension deductions; gradual payment of retirees’ gratuities and the payment of 16 months salaries of workers of the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu.
Ambali ruled out the issue of police permit, alleging that over 50 armed policemen had laid siege to the NLC secretariat since the commencement of the strike on Thursday, October 20, 2016.
But the Ogun State Police Command said on Tuesday that the NLC must get a police permit before embarking on the rally on Wednesday (today).
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
He said this became necessary so as to allow the police to give them security cover in order to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rally.
Meanwhil,Gov Amosun said no worker was sacked over the two-week-old strike in the state.
He said this was contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the governor ordered the dismissal of some civil servants due to the ongoing strike.
This was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Adviser on Media to the governor, Adejuwon Soyinka, on Tuesday.
He said the affected civil servants were alleged to have been involved in certain acts of misconduct in the course of the 2016 World Teachers’ Day celebration on October 5, 2016, which was before the ongoing strike.
The statement read in part, “Contrary to such claims, what truly transpired is that the Ogun State Civil Service Commission, in furtherance of its statutory responsibility of maintaining discipline and adherence to public service rules and extant regulations, on Monday, took the decision to sanction some civil servants.
“The affected civil servants were alleged to have been involved in certain acts of misconduct in the course of the 2016 World Teachers’ Day celebration on October 5, 2016, way before the ongoing strike action commenced.
“In a statement on Monday by the Ogun State Head of Service, Sola Adeyemi, the State Civil Service Commission explained that it received complaints from concerned members of the public against some public and civil servants allegedly involved in various acts of misconduct in the course of the 2016 World Teachers’ Day celebration.
“The allegations against the affected civil and public servants include the fact that contrary to extant public service rules, they got involved in partisan politics by publicly admitting receiving money from a politician and also hiring a musician with whom they sang praises of the said politician while chanting political slogans in the course of the World Teachers’ Day celebration.
“To determine the veracity of such complaints and give the affected civil and public servants the opportunity for fair hearing, the Civil Service Commission said it set up an administrative panel of inquiry on October 17, 2016.
“Before arriving at its decisions, the panel issued queries and invited the affected civil servants, who in turn, made written and oral representations.
“After listening to all the parties involved including witnesses as well as reviewing the evidences at its disposal, the panel, in its wisdom, recommended the dismissal of 16 public and civil servants.
“Those recommended for dismissal include the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Akeem Ambali, and the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Dare Ilekoya. They were all found to have contravened the Public Service Rules 04401, 04402 (c&d) and 04406 (a) due to their involvement in the political rally they held under the guise of World Teachers’ Day celebration event.
“The panel also recommended the suspension of 19 others while exonerating one Mr. Abiodun Oriyomi Samuel who was said not to have been involved in the alleged partisan act.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the State Civil Service Commission only acted in fulfilment of its statutory responsibility and this has nothing to do with Governor Amosun or the ongoing strike action embarked upon by a section of the workforce in the state.”
Also, the Secretary to the State Government in Ogun State, Taiwo Adeoluwa, said on Tuesday that the sacked civil servants could appeal to the state’s Head of Service on their sackings.
“As for your question whether government will rescind its decision on the sackings and suspension, only the Head of Service can answer that question. If they appeal; I don’t know if they have appealed,” he said.