Members of the striking Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Ogun State have said the burial ceremony of Governor Dapo Abiodun’s father prevented the State Government from attending to their demands.
DAILY POST recalls that courts in Ogun State have been under lock and key following an industrial action the workers embarked on a month ago.
JUSUN accused the Ogun State Government of short-changing its members, demanding full payment of their salaries.
However, the Chairman of JUSUN in Ogun State, Mr Edun Tajudeen, said the government has not opened any negotiation with the union since the proposal was submitted.
Edun said a government official had called him last week, assuring him that the government had not forgotten them.
The official was said to have explained that Gov Abiodun’s father’s burial was the reason why the government had not met with the striking court workers.
“Since the last time we met to present our proposal, we have not received anything from them nor hear from them. A government official called me last week that they have not forgotten us, saying it was because of the official function they were attending to, that is, this burial ceremony of the Governor’s father. It is the reason we have not been attended to,” Edun said in a phone interview on Monday.
DAILY POST reports that the Governor’s father, Pa Emmanuel Abiodun, who died on August 2, was laid to rest last Thursday.
The union leader, Edun alleged that salaries of workers were reviewed downwards.
“Our salary was decreased. When the issue of new minimum wage came to light. We observed that we at the judiciary were short-changed. The Consolidated Judicial Salary Structure (CONJUSS) we bargained for was slashed by 50%. On seeing the salary table, we rejected it. The government then restored all our CONJUSS. Then, they decreased our basic salary. And you know all allowances rest on the basic salary. So what we are expected to collect is reduced. In October 2020, we wrote to the government, but they didn’t do anything, same in November. In February, we gave 21 days ultimatum, nothing was done.
“During another meeting, that our basic salary was also restored. But the government now reduced some percentage from our regular allowances. From level 1 to 6, from 7 and 8, then 9 and above. We are not begging for increment. What we are asking for is our legitimate right.”
However, the Attorney-General of the state, Adegbolahan Adeniran insists the workers were not in any way short-changed.
In a response to JUSUN’s claims, Adeniran said the government did not reduce a dime from the salaries of judiciary workers.
In an interview with DAILY POST, Adeniran the said government is negotiating with the workers, saying, however, that they cannot just make any demands.
He said Ogun is one of the states paying judicial workers good salaries, aside from Oyo State.
He added that the government is not foolish or insensitive to have reduced salaries after implementing minimum wage.
His words: “Government is already in negotiation with JUSUN. What I encourage you, journalists, to do is to ask objective questions and not wait for general answers. JUSUN is saying something, please ask what were they earning before and what are they earning now? Ask for figures, don’t just ask for ‘this and that, ask for a comparison between Ogun State and every other states in the federation. The only state that earns a bit more is Oyo from level 1 to 8, but from level 9, there is no other state that earns as much as Ogun. There is none in Nigeria, none!
“Ogun State is one of the few states implementing minimum wage, but no one talks about that. Ogun State does not owe salaries, even with the minimum wage implemented. So, we are looking at what they are entitled to legally, legally! They cannot just come and ask for anything because we owe it a duty to other workers as well. If we give them more than it is due, and as a result, we couldn’t pay other workers, will other workers too not go on strike?
“We are trying our best, we don’t owe salaries. But these people will just come with different things every day. Now, what JUSUN is striking about does not affect JUSUN alone, it affects JUSUN, law officers, magistrates, judges, doctors and nurses. The moment JUSUN is able to negotiate something, these other people will also come; so, don’t look at JUSUN in isolation, they are all affected by it.
“Now, the issue you raised about congestion in police cells and all that, yes, it is a major concern for us and we have been trying to manage with the Chief judge, the police commissioner and head of prisons to see how we can do it, but we are prioritizing the negotiation with the leadership of JUSUN. Their National body is telling them to go on strike, but there is nowhere in this country where they are getting more than Ogun State JUSUN, and yet their national body is encouraging them to strike in Ogun State, I don’t understand.
“I am saying get figures from them, their salaries were not decreased. How can we decrease somebody’s salary after minimum wage? Are we insensitive or are we foolish? Ask for their take-home before the implementation of minimum wage and ask for it now, of course, there is an increase.
“An end to the strike is not solely dependent on us, we are doing our very best, we are engaging with them and we are trying to see how we can truly resolve this as quickly as possible, but we have to be reasonable.”