Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has said that the government will not use the taxes of workers to pay those who chose to stay at home for months on a strike that is ill-informed.
Speaking at the 2015/2016 Legal Year of the State Judiciary, the Governor said the law is clear that a worker who embarks on a strike will forfeit his wage.
Workers under the aegis of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in the state had embarked on a 7-month strike action to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
However, Oshiomole said: “we in the Executive in Edo State have utmost respect for the Judicial Arm on account of the courage and hard work that you have displayed.” But noted that “Under Convention 98 of the ILO, it states clearly that you have a right to go on strike, otherwise, it is slave labour but the Trade Union Act is very clear that notwithstanding any reason, if you embark on a strike, you forfeit your wages. That is the law, that is the convention and this convention has been domesticated in our labour laws and I ask you to look at all the provisions taken together in the various Trade Dispute Acts and Amendment Act, you not only forfeit your wages, you forfeit your seniority and you can be dismissed summarily.
“This is the law and the business of the court is to interpret the law without fear even if the litigant is an officer of the court. The court is not a respecter of its own employees so it must dispense justice even if it doesn’t favour the officers of the High Court and that is what we have taken note to do.
“I ask my Lord privately when he was pushing for this case and I put it here. At what point does it become acceptable that we resort to illegal tools in pursuance of legal ends? Can you seek legal ends resorting to illegal means? That is resorting to self help and if other groups resort to self help, the first casualty will be the judiciary. Survival of the fittest, everybody will go for cutlass.
“So I ask that JUSUN must run the union within the provisions of the Trade Union Act and within the provisions of the Trade Dispute Acts and if they exceed those boundaries, there are consequences.
“There would be more honour in vacating the office than to make compensation because even the Bible says that he who does not work does not deserve to eat. Wages are not gifts offered by a kind employer. Edo State Government will not pay wages for people who chose to go on holiday, otherwise, we will have to redefine law and order,” Oshiomole said.
The Governor promised the Chief Judge that his administration will build more court rooms before the end of his tenure so that more Judges could be posted to the state to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
On taxation, Oshiomhole said the state would be firm in its collection of taxes as is the case the world over. According to him, “the rich must be ready to pay taxes and this Governor will ensure that the rich in this state pay taxes. We will collect them within the law, and if they don’t pay, we will push it to the highest level that we can. It’s in the enlightened self interest of the rich to contribute for the maintenance of peace and security.
“When we construct 6-lane road to the Airport, those six lanes are not going to be used by people without vehicles. He who drives on those roads must pay, not only for the cost of building but for the cost of maintenance. When one man occupies 20, 000 square meters of an asset that is the most important for our collective will, out of about four million Edo people, one man takes 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 square metres of land scattered round the city, some own a whole street, if you must occupy that amount of space in a whole street and the poor are crowded 20 people, a man with 3 wives and children locked onto a land space that is not more than 300 square meters in the same state and you want the police to protect you, to service that right of property, I am afraid you have to pay for every square meter that you occupy.
“Our population will continue to grow. You do not need rocket scientist to tell you that over time, when the space of land remain constant and we are populating it with more and more people, there will be crisis of access to land. Therefore, it is sensible to make public policy expensive for people who have appetite for excessive land space to pay for it. That is the philosophy behind the Land Use Charge.”