MASS SACK OF OYO STATE PUBLIC WORKERS: Height Of The Anti-workers Disposition Of The Ajimobi-led ACN
MASS SACK OF OYO STATE PUBLIC WORKERS: Height Of The Anti-workers Disposition Of The Ajimobi-led ACN Administration
For the immediate recall of all sacked workers and an independent panel to verify allegations
(By Abbey Trotsky)
Like every other government across the country, Abiola Ajimobi/Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-led government in Oyo State has not for a moment concealed its crass anti-workers disposition and character since its inauguration on the 29 May, 2011. The first was his refusal to implement the 13th May consolidated salary agreement which his predecessor, Otunba Alao Akala approved for immediate implementation at the tail end of his inglorious regime of corruption and monumental waste and looting of public resources.
Ajimobi-led administration apparently felt embarrassed by the way it was forced by a very determined workers struggle to implement the agreement under reference for the month of May and the subsequent strike actions embarked upon by the rank and file workers in the state to resist the attempt by the State government in connivance with their state labour leadership to foster on them a distorted version of the nationally approved N18,000 minimum wage. Hence, the administration in order to weaken the collective strength and determination of workers decided to resort to various means and method of imposing an atmosphere of fear among Oyo state workers.
Sometime in May, 2012, some workers were given query letters based on allegation that their names corresponded with certain names of individuals published in a newspaper as delegates at a state congress organized by the People Democratic Party (PDP), the leading capitalist party in the country. Even though the issuance of the query was an infringement on the fundamental human right to freedom of association and lawful assembly of the affected workers, these workers who were given 72 hours to respond to the query were subsequently suspended indefinitely the second day they were issued the query letter.
In addition to this were other numerous instances where teachers who were actively involved in minimum wage struggle and later placed under surveillance were secretly called and warned by either their head teachers or local government education officers to desist from attending any political gathering that has no affiliation to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the ruling capitalist party in the state.
The height of this attack did not come until when over 4,000 public workers in the state were sacked between the month of July and August, 2012, based on wild allegations that range from forgery, corruption, falsification of age/certificate, stagnation and untrainable; old age, ill health among others.
Apparently, this mass sack which was carried out at two different times was deliberately aimed at reducing the workforce in the state as well as polarizing the ranks of Oyo State workers with the view of distracting their attention from a further clamour for the full implementation of N18,000 minimum wage across board. This is especially when such an insensitive and inhuman action was carried out few weeks to the time (August) the Oyo State government promised to release a new salary scale that would conform to the full implementation of the nationally approved minimum wage in the state.
It is important to stress that, it was the lack of a clear cut political programme of actions and activities from the side of the state leadership of the two labour centres in the state (the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress) to fight and resist this unjust attack on its members that made it so easy and possible for members of Oyo State house of assembly to be able to successfully douse the anger against the sack, thereby emboldening the Ajimobi-led administration which barely a month later sacked another 2,600 public workers in local government services across the 33 local government areas in the state.
It should be stressed that sacked workers in either the first or second category were not provided an avenue for fair hearing to defend themselves against the alleged offence. It is in light of this that we of the DSM unequivocally condemn the actions of the Oyo State ACN-led government for sacking workers
While condemning the sack and the entire undemocratic processes leading to it, the DSM demand immediate recall of all sacked workers and the constitution of an independent and democratic panel of inquiry which must comprise elected representatives of trade union and genuine pro-working people civil society organizations to investigate and verify the various allegations upon which the illegal mass sack were based.
Many ACN/government spokespersons in several sponsored media propaganda had argued that the mass sack was mainly carried out to curb acts of corruption, forgery and other menaces that characterize the public service in the state.
In refuting this, we of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) maintain that none of the allegations levelled against the sacked workers could be curtailed by sacking of poor workers in the state. In fact, we are convinced that many of the condemnable acts in the society today are mere expression of various neo-liberal policies which are subscribed to by every capitalist government across the country.
This is why we pointed out in a statement published in some newspapers on the 8th of August, 2012, that it was the artificial barrier created by the government or private employers while recruiting for jobs owing to limited places available that usually force many job seekers to falsify their age and even certificate. Many people graduated for years without a gainful job as a result of the failure of government at all levels regardless of political parties to create job or providing enabling atmosphere for job creation. This explains why it was possible for Oyo State government to sell over 77,000 civil service forms in less than two weeks for Oyo State unemployed job seekers to be recruited to replace about 7000 sacked workers. This reflects the high level of unemployment in the State.
Therefore, the best and the only way through which age and certificate falsification can be substantially curtailed is by creating gainful employment opportunities that will be decent and different from the slave-labour scheme of YES-O in which promising young people in the state are engaged on casual basis and denied right to national minimum wage and trade union.
Anything short of this will amount to mere shadow chasing as the over 77,000 army of unemployed who have purchased the civil service form will also be tempted to doctor or falsify either their age or certificate in order to be able to secure a place among the extremely limited appointment opportunities.
The insincerity of the entire process has further been highlighted by the fact that these workers were sacked based on the recommendation of one Captain Consulting Firm inherited from the inglorious past People Democratic Party (PDP) government of Adebayo Alao-Akala which also approved full implementation of national minimum wage to the Oyo State workers. But while the Abiola Ajimobi government of the Action Congress of Nigerian, (ACN), the second biggest capitalist party after PDP, enthusiastically implemented the staff audit report it has barefacedly dumped the approval of minimum wage into the waste basket.
We call on the state labour leadership to challenge this mindless mass sack of workers and struggle for the full implementation of N18, 000 minimum wage for Oyo State workers as well as against all attacks on both the living and working condition of the working but suffering masses in the state. The trade union leadership must also confront the propaganda and falsehood of the government by publicizing facts and figures in the interest of workers.
Given the entire neo-liberal and anti-workers framework in which all the major capitalist governments (ACN, PDP, CPC, LP, APGA, etc) operate, it is high time Oyo state workers and the entire workers across the country came to a realization that their interest and aspiration can never be met as long as any of the existing bourgeois political parties across the country today continue to dominate the political scene. This therefore necessitates the need for workers and the poor masses to build their own independent political party.