There is a strong indication that the organised labour in Ondo State may commence another round of industrial action as its meeting with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was deadlocked on Friday.
Akeredolu was alleged to have angrily walked out of the meeting, which was held at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the governor’s office, when the labour leaders demanded details of how the state government would spend the N20.9bn Paris Club refund on salary and pension arrears.
The state workers and pensioners had last week staged a peaceful protest for several hours at the entrance of the governor’s office to kick against an alleged plot by the state government to divert the Paris Club refund released by President Muhammadu Buhari to settle accumulated arrears of salaries and pension.
It was gathered that trouble started when Akeredolu kept the labour leaders waiting for about five hours.
On arriving at the meeting, the governor was said to have expressed displeasure with the blockage of his office entrance on Tuesday by the workers during the protest.
The chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council, Abel Oloniyo, who confirmed the walkout, said the action showed Akeredolu had an “inordinate intention to divert the Paris Club refund for personal or political use.”
A labour leader, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the workers might go on strike next week.
He said, “It has been shown to us that the governor is not ready to listen to us and at the next meeting we are holding, probably Monday or Tuesday, the leaders of the union would announce the date for the commencement of the strike and the strike is going to be indefinite. We don’t have a workers-friendly governor. “
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Segun Ajiboye, said Akeredolu never walked out on the labour leaders.
He said, “Prior to the meeting, the governor’s engagement for the day had a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony billed to hold at 2pm. But in order to accommodate the meeting with the labour, the governor advised that the event be rescheduled till after the meeting with labour.
“During the meeting with labour, all the stakeholders spoke and made their requests, while the governor listened attentively to their complaints and demands.
“After every member of the labour team had spoken, the governor said he had listened to all their demands and complaints, promising that further meetings would hold.”
Ajiboye explained that the governor excused himself from the meeting in order to attend the MoU signing ceremony, which he said commenced almost immediately after the labour meeting ended.
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