Dr. Chris Ngige
Health workers in the University College Hospital(UCH)Ibadan, Nigeria have expressed reservations over the insistence of the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole that their salaries for April and May would not be paid until the leaders of their unions apologize for embarking on the suspended strike action.
The UCH health workers made this known through the Chairman of the National Union of Allied Health Professionals of Nigeria(NUAHP)UCH branch, Comrade Oladayo Olabampe.
''The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that the two months salaries owed workers in the UCH would onlybe paid, when our union leaders apologize for the strike action that has been suspended. But we are not ready to apologize. The strike action was legal''.
''However, salaries for 17 days in April has been paid, remaining 13 days , while May salaries are yet to be paid. The five unions in the health sector are working tirelessly to ensure that salaries are paid'', Comrade Olabampe disclosed
The All Workers Coverngence(AWC) has declared that the Federal Government does not have any intention to increase workers' salaries.
The AWC made this declaration through its National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze, in a chat with People.
''It is a delibrate attempt to dash the hopes of the Nigerian workers, who have been underpaid in the past years. And so it is as if, it is also a delibrate attempt to deceive the Nigerian workers, having continually promised since last year, ever since the committee was set up and the promise that the new minimmage will see the light of the day in Septmber, for government to now say it is no longer possible, confirms the fact that government is deceiving the workers and it is the most irresponsible thing to do''.
''In the light of this, the AWC, is calling for immediate radical action from the Trade Union Congress(TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), the two unions should as a matter of urgency, confront this pronouncement with a nationwide strike action, as this remains the only therapy that can help workers in the struggle for a new antional minimum wage '', Comrade Emelieze stated.
The Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Nigige, has a few days ago, disclosed that by September, the committee on new antional minimum wage would be submitting its report, and as a result the implementation would be moved forward.
Training and Retraining of Workers : Oyo Govt Has not Done Enough for us-Chairman JNC
Similarly, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress(TUC), who also doubles as the Chairman Joint Negotiation Council(JNC) in the state, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran, has disclosed that the state government has not done enough in the area of training and retraining of the state's workforce in the last seven years.
''Training and retraining that could have improved our productivity has been embargoed. This is not good for the workers. However, the state government is trying its best in the payment of salaries, we are only been owed for May, as at now, the government has the will to pay. But in the area of facelift to our work environment, government started well, the Governor's office is a sight to behold, but same cannot be said of our offices'', Comrade Ogundiran noted.
The need for an increase in wages and better working conditions prompted Michael Imoudu to lead a demonstration from the locomotive yard in Ebute metta, Lagos to the Government House situated at Marina, Lagos Island, Lagos.
The Governor General of the Colony of Lagos, Bernard Bourdillon noticed that any form of industrial action at that period, could disrupt railway supplies to the coalition, during the Second World War in 1941. It was on this premise he acceded to a 50 per cent pay rise for the workers.
This success, further inspired Imoudu to put forward more demands, among which were conversion of daily casual labour to salaried employment, Saturday work with pay, permanence of daily labour, holiday travel grant and payment of arrears to cover 1932 to 1942 of unpaid entitlements.
This did not go down well with Bourdillon, who facilitated the termination of Imoudu’s appointment on 23 January, 1943 and also ordered his arrest under the Nigeria General Defense Regulations, 1941.
In quick succession he was relocated and remanded at the Benin prison, while in prison, he influenced inmates to demonstrate against poor feeding and other deplorable prison conditions.
In response, the British Colonial Government in 1943, restricted Imoudu’s movement to the palace of the paramount Chief of Auchi and made an order for him to report twice a week to the Auchi Police station.
As a result of a face off with the District Officer of Auchi and his moves to facilitate the establishment of peasants’ cooperatives for the benefit of peasants in Etsako and Ora, he was again remanded in the Auchi prison.
Some of his comrades, including T.A Bankole openly spoke against Imoudu’s action, to the hearing of the Chief Secretary of Government.
After spending two and a half years in prison, the labour activist was set free.
A mass rally was held at Oko-Awo, Lagos to celebrate his release from prison, while nationalists such as Herbert Macaulay were on ground to grace the occasion.
In June 1945, he successfully led over 30,000 workers to down tools for 44 days.
The industrial action was hinged on the inability of the colonial Government to actualize the promise of Bourdillon in 1942, to review allowances according to living index.
Bourdillon’ successor, Arthur Frederick Richards vigorously refused to pay the allowance.
This resulted in the abrupt end of the unpopular Richards constitution, and set the stage for self government.