President of the NLC, Abdulwahed Omar
By Damilola Oyedele
As tension mounts in Plateau State over the ultimatum issued to the state government as a result of its impasse with members of staff of local government councils and teachers in the state, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused Governor Jonah Jang of resorting to blackmail of the workers thereby stoking the embers of violence.
This is as it expressed its readiness to give full support to the workers in their struggle to demand the implementation of the new minimum wage.
President of the NLC, Abdulwahed Omar, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, alleged that the Plateau State government is currently mobilising unemployed youths in the state against the striking workers.
He added that “the governor is a crisis-happy man who is determined to ensure the constant absence of peace and tranquility in his state.”
The ultimatum issued the state government by the national body of the NLC expires today.
The bone of contention between the warring parties bothers on the implementation of the N18, 000 national minimum wage.
The local government workers in the state have been on strike since June 1, 2012.
Omar called on the state House of Assembly and other stakeholders to call the governor to order.
He added that rather than meet with the state council of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the governor shunned their notices wipping up sentiments against the workers instead.
He added that the national body had refrained from using its weight to declare a total industrial action in the state to avoid causing more problems for a state that is in dire need of peace.
“When the state Government claimed it lacked the required funds for the full implementation of the new wage, the workers demonstrated rare understanding and patriotism by agreeing to a temporary implementation of just 55 per cent of the new wage, pending when the state’s finances improves,” the statement read.
The statement added that “the state government did not only refuse to implement what they convinced the workers to accept, they went ahead to refuse to pay arrears of salary to the striking workers.”
Omar further disclosed that the national executive of the NLC met with the governor on November 22, 2012, noting that nothing fruitful came out of the meeting.
The NLC urged the governor to realise that he is a governor under a democratic dispensation and not a military dictatorship where his word would go unchallenged.
“We assure Jonah Jang and those advising him of the total victory of the workers over his ill intentioned manoeuvrings and machinations against the implementation of the new minimum wage because there is nowhere in the world that the use of force has succeeded against dialogue in industrial disputes,” the statement added.