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Panic as labour plans to shut Taraba over minimum wage

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Nigeria Labour Congress

There is panic in Taraba State as workers plan to picket financial institutions and close down markets across the state.

The organised labour in the state had, last week, released a statement directing all civil servants in the state to resume the earlier suspended strike, to press home their numerous demands from the state government, including implementation of the national minimum wage of N30,000.

Labour has been at loggerheads with the state government over the issue. But The Guardian gathered that the government has turned deaf ears to the demands.

The planned shutdown of the state has triggered panic-buying, as the residents, apparently, want to avoid similar situation they found themselves during last year’s lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

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In a visit to financial institutions in Jalingo, yesterday, The Guardian noticed that customers, who were eagerly waiting to make withdrawals, occupied all the spaces in bank premises.

The situation was not different in the markets visited, as buyers were seen making large purchases they could afford.

Some respondents told The Guardian that their action become necessary to avoid the experience they had during last year’s lockdown.

The situation, which they said caught them unawares and inflicted untold hardship on them, won’t be allowed to reoccur; hence the rush to make withdrawals for the purchase of food and other essentials.

Some bank customers even expressed readiness to close down their accounts to stockpile their homes with food that would sustain them during the strike.

When reached for comments, the state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Peter Jediel; and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Sule Abasu, said workers in the state unanimously agreed on the industrial action.

“It is no longer news that the Taraba government has demonstrated insensitivity to workers’ plight,” they said.

At press time, no worker was allowed entry into the state secretariat, as all gates had been locked.

Government activities in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies visited were as well crippled.

Efforts to reach the Head of Service, Susan Nathan, proved abortive, as her mobile lines were not going through.

The proposed shutdown, according to a top government functionary who does not want his name in print, if not urgently addressed, could mar the Esther celebration.

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