Speaking on 21/3/17, in Asaba when he received the newly elected Chairman of the state chapter of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Comrade Michael Nwobodo and his Executive members on a courtesy visit, Governor Okowa said that labour leaders should not mis-inform their members on the state of affairs to enable the members take informed decision
He said that there was the need for collaborative partnership between government and labour unions in the handling of various industrial issues for peace and development to thrive.
The Governor explained that labour leaders have a role to play in the governance and development of the state stressing that “for governance to function properly there must be true partnership between labour leaders and government, for the state to function effectively and efficiently, we all have a role to play as our actions and inactions will shape the directions of governance, as a government we will continue to stay in partnership with you,”
On the strike action embarked upon by the Nigeria Union of Teachers in the state, Senator Okowa said there were a lot of misinformation on the issues.
He charged union leaders to always tell their members the truth so that they would understand the situation of things stressing “if anybody, leading a union or an association, wants to pretend that there is no change in the economy, such person will definitely be deceiving himself or will end up deceiving those that we lead and as leaders, we owe it a duty to tell the truth in the best of ways to those we lead because it is under that condition will they begin to find ways to adjust their thoughts towards issues of demand and welfare.”
Senator Okowa who decried the misinformation by the NUT leaders to their members as a basis for the strike action explained that primary school teachers were the responsibility of the Local Government Councils and the state government was liaising with the councils on how best to handle the payment of salaries to local government workers and the primary school teachers in the best interest of the state.
“There is this misinformation which continues to go out there that the primary school teachers are supposed to be paid by the state government; that is not true, it is a misinformation and when somebody who leads a union rises up to speak in a way that is not right to his people and by lying to them, then I get worried because as far back as the nineties, I know that when the allocation going to local government councils was moved from 10percent to a little over 20.6percent, the primary school teachers moved to the local government councils and the state allocation which was over 30percent was then reduced to 20percent; but that did not stop us as a state from assisting when there is money to offer assistance “, he said
While emphasizing that the state government has fulfilled all its obligation to the secondary school teachers, Senator Okowa said that government has assisted the Local Government Councils over the years with various sums of money to augment the payment of salaries.
He stressed that government at the Joint Account Allocation Committee has in conjunction with the various labour leaders agreed to the payment of 81 percent of salaries to local government staff and primary school teachers who were being owed nine months and two months salaries respectively but the NUT Executive wanted to be taken care of to the detriment of the NULGE members “forgetting that the money is meant to be used to pay for both local government council workers and teachers’ salaries”
While congratulating Comrade Nwobodo and his executive members on their election, he reiterated the need for dialogue to resolve the issues but stressed that there must be collaborative partnership not intimidation, people must do what was right for the development of the state and reduce the pains on the masses.
Earlier, the Chairman of TUC, Comrade Michael Nwobodo commended Governor Okowa for restoring peace to the state and the meaningful infrastructural development going on in the state despite the current recession in the country.
He said that TUC believe in dialogue and collaborative partnership with government in resolving industrial issues.