Chief Emeka Wogu
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Plateau State Government and members of organised labour unions Thursday agreed to shift grounds to end the ongoing industrial action embarked on by workers in the state to press for the implementation of the N18,000 National Minimum Wage.
This came as strong indications emerged that the striking workers may call off their seven-month old strike today following the olive branch extended to them by the state government.
The truce, which was achieved in Abuja after exhaustive deliberations by both members of the organised labour and the representatives of the government of Plateau State, was however mediated by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.
Accordingly, the workers of the state are expected to shelve the ongoing strike and resume work on the basis of the resolution, which was signed by various authorised officials of the parties involved in the industrial dispute.
A communique of the resolutions which was made available to journalists indicated that the lingering disagreement has been resolved and without prejudices to existing agreement.
The communique stated that: “The Plateau State Government should pay the salaries of workers with 55 per cent implementation of the Minimum Wage from June 2012; a. The salaries of October, November and December 2012 shall be paid as agreed immediately; b. The payment of June to September 2012 salaries will be addressed by the Governor of Plateau State, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, and the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) within one month from the date of this communiqué.
Labour to partner the government of Plateau State to carry out screening through biometric to ascertain the actual staff strength of the local government areas within two months and the government of Plateau State in collaboration with the local government councils to intensify internally generated revenue.”
It further read: “There shall be no victimisation of workers and their unions who participated in the industrial action in the state during the period. The organised labour hereby suspends the current industrial action in the state.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), M. D. Abubakar on an alleged violent harassment of its officials in its Jos office.
NLC, in a letter signed by its acting General Secretary, Chris Uyot, and addressed to Abubakar said: “As we write to you today, the police have laid siege at the state secretariat of the NLC in Jos, not only disallowing labour leaders to enter the premises, but harassed and violently attacking workers.
“This avoidable attack on workers is happening in the face of ongoing dialogue between the NLC and the state government being brokered by the Minister of Labour today in Abuja.
“We crave your indulgence to use your good offices and intervene in the prevailing crisis in Jos, by directing the police to vacate the state council secretariat of the NLC, as their continued occupation of the premises might not only adversely affect the current negotiations, but escalate into unpleasant clashes with security forces with dire consequences on the already fragile security situation in the state.”
Governor Jonah David Jang, had announced that “after due consideration of the ongoing strike by local government workers, government has decided that although the “No work No pay” status of the law is before the National Industrial Court for interpretation, government has on compassionate grounds approved the payment of salaries to the resuming workers with effect from October to December, 2012.”
In a statement signed by the governor’s Director of Press, Mr. James Mannok, Jang had admonished the workers “to resume work and take advantage of the gesture along with many of their colleagues that have since reported to work and paid their October, 2012 salaries.”
The statement added that government shall in its tradition of respect for the rule of law fully comply with the outcome and decision of the National Industrial Court on the matter.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organistaion, the Information for Democracy and Development (IDD), has also called for amicable resolution of the disagreement.
In a statement signed by Joshua Yahaya, the group said it was disturbed that NLC in its quest to fight for the cause of the workers had provided enough evidence in the Plateau workers strike for the public to conclude that it has deviated from the path of honour and decency established by its founding fathers.
“How does one justify the resort to violence and deliberate disobedience to court order on the ground that they are protesting the non-payment of the national minimum wage to the workers? We condemn this act of brigandage orchestrated by the leadership of NLC.
“It is also evident that unless the judicial arm of government is seen from its vital role of upholding the principle of rule of law and appreciated for its valuable contribution to the entrenchment of civility in a democracy, organisations like the NLC will continue to view the sector casually and therefore treat its pronouncements with disdain.”
The group stressed that in labour dispute, once you don’t agree on certain matters or issues with your employer, you either stay off from rendering services or you seek legal redress before a competent court.
“Information for Democracy and Development looks back with great nolstagia to yesteryears when the NLC was a bridge builder in all issues of dispute, progress and emancipation and the non-governmental organisation looks forward to when the Organised Labour will re-enact those critical trends that will sustain its enviable tradition.”