From Victor Seyi, Ilorin
Workers of the Kwara State-owned tertiary institutions under the aegis of Non-Teaching Staff Union (NASU) yesterday embarked on an indefinitestrike action over non-payment of five-month old salaries.
But Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has urged the workers to return to work and exercise patience while his government seeks remedies to the problem.
The affected institutions include the state Colleges of Education in Ilorin, Lafiagi, Oroa and Kwara state College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies (CAILS).
The union had issued a-14 day ultimatum to the state government to effect payment of their salary arrears or risk full blown industrial action. The ultimatum expired last Saturday.
Speaking with reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the state capital, Chairman of the state College of Education, Najeem Anas said: “We are embarking on total strike as instructed by the national headquarters of the Non-Teaching Staff Union of Tertiary Institutions (NASU) after the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given to the Kwara state government to pay our salaries.
“The ultimatum expired on Saturday yet no response from the state government. Our salaries have not been paid, so we don’t have any option than to go on strike.
“The state government owes us about five months salaries, as we have been receiving 40 percent of our take home pay from March this year. Surprisingly, government paid full salary for the months of August. The outstanding of April, May, June, July and September are still pending.
“Government is saying it is not indebted to us, while management says it does not have money to pay workers’ salaries. Management has been fulfilling its own side of the bargain, paying us 40 percent. We expect government subvention to come but to no avail. We are directing our members to commence full strike as declared by the national headquarters. Total number of NASU members here in this college is 250.
“The strike is declared by our union headquarters. Any negotiation and correspondent had to be written to NASU headquarters, but what I want to tell the government is that we believe in negotiation.”
But Governor Ahmed, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media
and Communications, Dr Muyideen Akorede, said his government “takes the welfare of all workers seriously and is concerned by the plight of the affected workers. While the government holds that subventions are not meant for payment of salaries but to assist in the running of the affected institutions, we emphasize that the delay in payment of subvention is due to the huge drop in federal allocation which has affected all levels of government in the country.
“Meanwhile, revenue generating bodies such as tertiary institutions are expected to handle recurrent expenditure such as salary payment while relying on government for infrastructure. Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is however doing everything possible to resolve the situation by
sourcing funds to support the affected institutions to pay their staff.”