PLATEAU: Govt Owes Workers Six Months Salaries, Arrears
It is no longer news that the outgoing government of Mr Jonah Jang in Plateau State is owing workers in the state six months’ salaries and arrears. After months of strike and pleas on the part of the government, the leadership of the workers’ union suspended the strike, believing that it will create room for better negotiation with the government.
Not doing anything about it after the suspension of the industrial action, the workers called for a meeting and issued ultimatum to government to pay.
Even during this year’s May Day celebration, Plateau workers boycotted the march past because the Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Jibrin Bancir, believed that it was not worthy of celebration.
According to him, “NLC in the state would rather mourn for the injustice meted to them by the policies and administration of Governor Jonah David Jang than to join their counterparts to celebrate the Labour Day.”
Bancir added, “It is on record today that Plateau workers will not be celebrating May Day with our counterparts all over the world. This action is necessitated by the singular act of bad governance, inhuman treatment that we have been subjected to over the years by outgoing government of Governor Jang. The Labour Union has kept faith with democracy in the country.
What our members could get in return as dividend was trauma and anguish. The Labour Union in the state has negotiated for so long with the state government for peaceful resolution of the crisis, but all to no avail, because the state governor was indifferent to the plight of the workers.”
Before giving the notice of strike that commenced on May 4, Bancir enumerated the long standing disputes and bone of contention between the workers and state government to include, outstanding arrears of minimum wage, non–release of promotion of the members, non- payment of salaries to workers, non – implementation of minimum wage for local government and primary school employees.
Others are outstanding 2012 leave and transport grant, non– payment of gratuity and pension to retirees, non-remittance of National Housing Fund and unending biometric exercise.”
But in a statement issued on Workers’ Day, the state commissioner for Information and Communication, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Badu, government appealed to the NLC to extend similar commitment to the incoming administration to enable it to build on the achievement of the present administration, advising that as the administration gradually winds up on May 29, Labour and other stakeholders should not engage in any action that will affect the smooth transition to the next administration.
Before the May Day, the Labour union had earlier given government another 14 – day ultimatum on January 21, 2015. At the expiration of the ultimatum, nothing was achieved and the workers went back to work on empty stomach.
The organised labour, according to Bancir, has always kept faith with history knowing that the collective bargaining approach embarked upon by the union has never yielded any positive result as the good gestures are always met with rebuff by the state government.
“It is disturbing to say that after the signed agreement on payment of arrears of 2011 national minimum wage with the state government on the issue of six months arrears of the minimum wage, the government up till this moment is yet to open a discussion on this issue with the union again.
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