Government activities were disrupted for many hours in Akure, the Ondo State capital today, as civil servants in the state staged a peaceful protest against the bill on Contributory Pension Scheme sent to the State House of Assembly by the Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
The workers locked all government complexes and offices as early as 7:30am, frustrating government business from taking off on the first working day of the week.
They thereafter occupied the State House of Assembly complex on Igbatoro road, Akure in protest of the bill they have termed obnoxious.
The workers in the Civil Service of the state had last week threatened to block all roads leading to the Assembly and ensure that there was no access to the venue of the Public hearing on the bill which was slated for passage on Monday.
They had vowed to use every legal means within their jurisdiction to fight the government, especially by grounding all government activities if what they described as “hurried and forceful commencement of implementation of the scheme” without their consent was not reversed.
The workers stated in a letter written by the Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC), a copy of which was made available to the state leadership that the scheme was a fraudulent means of enslaving the entire workforce in the state.
In the letter titled; ”Are we safe In Our Own State?”, they accused the Office of the Head of Service of the state of colluding with the state government to enslave the entire workers.
The workers noted that the circular issued by the state government on 4th March, 2014 had showed the true colour of the present administration in the state, which they said was not genuinely disposed to workers welfare.
Ondo JNC maintained that the law establishing the scheme allows it to be domesticated by each state with input from stakeholders, especially workers in the state public service.
The workers who were skeptical about the genuineness of the state government on the scheme, called on the government to show proof of evidence that the employer(government) was fully prepared to pay its own monthly share of the contribution as well as the actual valuation before implementation could commence in the State.
They said it was necessary to avoid the ugly scenario whereby employers in some states allegedly did not only refuse to pay their own share, but embezzled the amount contributed by workers.
Addressing the workers at the Assembly premises, the Ondo State Head of Service, Barrister Toyin Akinkuotu, explained that the contributory pension scheme was a matter of law which was enacted in 2004 with the aim to assist the entire workers in the country to save towards their retirement day.
He noted that, “We are proposing that Ondo State will now constitute their own Pension Commission which will coordinate every other existing pension board in the various state agencies and organizations”.
Akinkuotu pleaded with the labour union that the proposal of government on the scheme would take off as soon as the economy of the state improves, promising that the government would be faithful on its part.
He stated that government will increase its contribution by paying 12:5% (Five Percent) as bound.
He urged the workers to think critically about the age grade of 50 years which he said was in the interest of the labour, but if they think their agitation for 45 years should be the yardstick, then government will have no choice than to follow suit.
The Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Dare Emiola, while speaking with the workers, said members of the Assembly were voted for to represent the interest of the people of the state and promised that the bill will be holistically scrutinized to ensure that when it is passed into Law, it will serve the interest of the workers.