The Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Osun State Adekola Adebowale, says the proposed slash of civil servants salaries by the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed would not hold water as even she has come out to openly claim she was misquoted.
In this interview with DAILY POST’s Francis Ezediuno, Adebowale opens up on the implementation of the national minimum wage in the state and why labour will always work and not fight against the government.
What is the reaction of the TUC Osun State to the slashing of civil servants salary as proposed by the Minister of Finance?
Let me say this for a fact, that statement was made to test the waters. To test the ability and the capability of the labour movement in Nigeria. There is another report I heard where the Minister of Finance claimed that she was misquoted.
The slashing of civil servants salaries is illegal, unconstitutional, a barbaric idea, uncultured, unfair, ungodly and satanic. Why I am saying all this is because this is not the only country experiencing economic meltdown and this type of situation calls for an adjustment that can give us a smooth landing.
It is not a welcomed idea at all and nobody in their right senses would allow such a thing to scale through. It is just a proposal. It will go the same way it came.
Which do you suppose should be slashed, salaries of civil servants or that of political office holders?
Our people are not well informed. The total salary put together, the larger percentage of it is earned by the politicians. They are the people getting the larger sum from it by a virtue of their being at the helm of affairs.
They have aides and also estacode too. Let the politicians reduce all their unworthy expenditures, you would see that we will have a good landing in this country.
Our politicians always like to malign the good workers of Nigeria and also of the states. That is one of the reasons the slashing of workers salaries was proposed.
The proposal is ungodly and nobody in their right senses will accept it from them.
As the TUC Chairman in Osun State, is it true that civil servant or service in Osun have been compromised?
It is very unfortunate that some people don’t understand how things work in the civil service.
There is nothing like a compromise. We are working according to the ethics of our job. We the civil servants operate under the civil service regulations and general orders. These are both tools that we work with.
The summary of the whole thing is that we have to work with every government in power. Whoever is saying the civil service in Osun has been compromised is suffering from a lack of information, lack of intellect and unexposed mental illness and they don’t have any idea of how the civil service operates.
The civil servants in Osun State are a hundred percent with the state government. They don’t have any choice in this case. The labour leaders were not elected to be fighting the government.
I want it to be clear. No labour leader in Nigeria or outside Nigeria according to the International Labour Organisation is elected to fight their government. Rather, what we are elected for is to agitate for the welfare and benefit of our members.
During the process of agitation, collective bargaining comes up. This means that both labour and government will seat and fashion out ways of getting to a middle ground that will not jeopardise the interests of both sides.
These are the things we do in the labour movement and not to fight our employers. We cannot fight the government because it is unheard of for employees to fight their employers.
What about the controversy generated when it was reported earlier in the year that labour called on Osun civil servants to embark on strike due to the state government’s failure to implement the national minimum wage?
As per the issue of Osun being amongst the states that have not started to implement the minimum wage, it was a case of being misquoted.
Though the TUC is not part of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), there was nowhere that Osun State was mentioned in that National Executive Council (NEC) meeting where the decision to carry out the strike action against states that have not implemented the national minimum wage was arrived at.
The Osun NLC chairman was there as a member of the NEC. This is because Osun State has started the implementation of the national minimum wage in November 2020. So there was no need for Osun to be mentioned.
I am stating categorically without any iota of doubt that we are on course in minimum wage implementation in Osun State and we must continue to appreciate our employer because to whom much is given, much is equally expected.
The state is amongst the first eighteen states to implement the national minimum wage in Nigeria now. We have no issues with the national minimum wage though we may have in other areas.
What if the proposal to slash the salaries is implemented? What course of action would the TUC take?
It is not feasible. Politicians can implement the policy of the government but it is the civil servants who prepare these policies and also work for them.
There is no distinction between federal and state civil servants here. It is a law. The national minimum wage is on the Exclusive List and in this list, what is adopted at the federal level is domesticated at the state levels.
If anybody suggests that satanic proposal, for us that are godly, we will apply them godly. We will kill the proposal and it won’t see the light of the day.