‘Bailout’Fund: Aregbesola Government Should Pay All Arrears of Salaries, Allowances, Pensions and Gr
‘Bailout’Fund: Aregbesola Government Should Pay All Arrears of Salaries, Allowances, Pensions and Gratuities Now!
Workers and retirees must reject half or incomplete salary and pension
Labour Movement Should Call Immediate Congress of Workers and organize mass action if all salaries and pensions are not paid
We of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter, hereby call on the Rauf Aregbesola-led Osun State government to pay all outstanding salaries and allowances, and retirees pensions and gratuities of workers in the state. We also call for the immediate refund of all illegally withheld deductions from workers’ salaries, bank loans, cooperative loans and dues, union dues and contributory pension fund. This call becomes more urgent now as the state government was reported to have secured a loan of N34.988 billion (with 9 percent interest payable over 20 years) from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week, purposely for the payment of salaries.
However, there has been allegation that Aregbesola government would want to use the money for other purposes. For instance, there have been reports credited to some officials of the government that the government will only pay one month’s salary for workers. We call on workers to reject this and demand full payment of all outstanding salaries and pensions. Also, the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has been reported to be claiming the bailout is not for salaries and pensions. The governor was reported at the so-called Stakeholders’ Forum organized by Osun Legislatorsto have threatened and bullied workers and their leaders; heaping the blame of mismanagement of state fund on workers.The unending verification exercise which have put workers in unwarranted hardship further give credence to the fact that the Aregbesola government is looking for all means to deny workers and pensioners their salaries and pensions.
Furthermore, the Aregbesola government is renowned to be committed to its contractor partners than workers; therefore, it is obvious that the government wants to divert the ‘bailout’ money to these contractors and the inflated contracts. While the governor has claimed he would pay workers before Eid-el Kabir, he did not mention whether the government is paying all salary and pension arrears or another half salary.
We call on leadership of labour movement in the state to demand immediate payment of workers’ salaries and allowances, and pensions and gratuities of public sector retirees. As a way of driving this demand home, Workers’ Congress should be immediately called by labour unions to mobilize workers for mass actions in case the Aregbesola government decides to divert the bailout to contractors’ pockets. Workers should not be hoodwinked by the antics of the government including the unending verification exercise; they should demand full payment of salaries and pensions. Workers should reject any attempt to pay them half or reduced salaries and/or pensions.
As a reminder, the Aregbesola government plunged the state into total indebtedness and financial crisis through implementation of policies that diverted public funds to private pockets of rich few in the state and beyond. While the government plunged the state into a needless indebtedness of over N90 billion within a space of four years, the so-called infrastructural projects upon which the monies were spent, aside being inflated and piecemeal, are abandoned and uncompleted. Worse still, most social facilities and infrastructures in the state are in deplorable conditions. Labour and working people must not listen to the hypocritical attacks on the APC by the PDP and the other pro-capitalist parties. Labour must set up its public investigation into where the money has gone and put forward its own plans for projects and programmes that are in the interests of the working masses and poor, not the looters and contractors.
To add insult to injury, the government could not pay salaries of workers and pensions of retirees for months. Today, workers, pensioners and the poor people are living from hand to mouth. In addition, many deductions from workers’ salaries meant for bank loan repayment, cooperative loan repayment, contributory pension payments and union dues, were illegally withheld and unremitted by the Aregbesola government, even after it has deducted same from workers’ salaries.
Workers must demands for immediate and full refund of all withheld and unremitted deductions alongside full payment of outstanding salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities. This is necessary because if these deductions are not immediately refunded by the Aregbesola government to appropriate organizations, it will plunge workers into needless and long-term indebtedness and suffering. In cases where the non-remittance of the deduction has led to hike in interest rates and repayment, workers should demand that Aregbesola government be responsible for the excess interests that might have arisen from such instances.This further underscores the need for workers and pensioners in the state to demand the immediate convocation of Congress of Workers to discuss and address these issues.
The latest ‘bailout’ being given by the CBN to the state in form of ‘soft’ loan of N34.9 billion, with 9 percent interest rate, payable over twenty years, demonstrates how the Aregbesola government as well as other affected state government have bankrupted their states. Clearly, generations of Osun residents and of other affected states cutting across both the APC and PDP are going to pay for this odious debt. While the ‘soft’ loan from CBN may help relieve workers and retirees, it is still a costly debt, especially with the exorbitant interest rate; more so that the money is coming from the Central Bank, a federal agency. One would have expected the federal government, with its much-touted mantra of ‘change’ and accountability to unconditionally bail out the state, and make practical effort to recover billions looted and diverted from the state’s coffer by government officials and their allies within and outside, through the bogus contracts and other perfidious means. Moreover, the Buhari administration should ensure full payment of N18, 000 minimum wage to all categories of workers at local, state, federal and private sector levels. This is where the idea of change can make meaning.
The general crisis of non-payment of salaries and pensions across the country by all tiers of governments, controlled by all main capitalist ruling parties, shows how the whole nation’s economic situation is worsening and how anti-worker the current crop of capitalist politicians and political parties are. While they take care of their ostentatious lifestyles from public resources e.g. over N3 billion for National Assembly members, workers are made to suffer needlessly. This underscores the consistent demand of the DSM that working people should build their own political platform that stands for them, against all the pro-rich people ruling political parties in Nigeria today.