President of Nigeria Labour Congress,NLC Comrade Abdulwahed Omar has described, Mr. Jonah Jang, the Governor of Plateau State as “ a crisis happy man who is determined to ensure the constant absence of peace and tranquility in his state.”
Omar in a statement today recalled that since 1st June 2012, local government workers which includes primary school teachers and health workers have been on strike as a result of the refusal of the Jonah Jang administration to implement the new National Minimum Wage. The strike started after the state government through the Ministry of Local Government was notified thrice in writing by the state councils of both the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.
Rather than meet with the state councils of NLC and TUC, the government ignored their notices and since June, the workers have been on strike and the governor is not in any way interested in resolving the crisis, but decided to embark on fruitless blackmail,Omar said.
The issues in contention borders on the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage Act, which is a law having been passed by the National assembly and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan as constitutionally required,he added.
Omar remarked that “When the state Government claimed it lacked the required funds for the full implementation of the new wage, the workers demonstrated rear understanding and patriotism by agreeing to a temporary implementation of just 55% of the new wage, pending when the state’s finances improves.”
“As usual of the Jang administration that is well known for unilaterally breaking mutual agreements, 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.
“The leadership of the NLC at the highest level, met with the governor on Thursday, 22nd November 2012 for five hours believing that the governor and his team understood the basic principles of industrial relations as against his renowned politics of vindictiveness, which he demonstrated throughout the meeting.
For us, we have restrained ourselves from using the full weight of our capacity to declare total industrial action in the state because it is obvious to everyone that the state is already engulfed in several avoidable crisis enough to cause the governor deeper concern for peace. However, Jonah Jang seems determined to deepen the crisis as he has been mobilizing unemployed youths against striking workers in the state.
“These unemployed youths are the same ones he was supposed to provide decent jobs as part of his responsibility as the governor, but he has opted to throw crumbs at them to defend him in his quest for deeper crisis.
“We remind the governor that he is no longer a military officer who had governed two states under military dictatorship; he urgently needs to drop his military toga if he wants to succeed as a civilian,the NLC President said.
He also added, “We assure Jonah Jang and those advising him of the total victory of the workers over his ill intentioned maneuverings 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 and we are fully prepared to give full support to the entire workers of Plateau State in the struggle for the full implementation of the new minimum wage.
Given the scenario above Omar said “It is becoming obvious that the governor of Plateau State derives pleasure from crisis, and if not restrained, the embers of the conflagration he is stoking may somehow consume him.
“We call on the State House of Assembly and other stakeholders not to bow to the governor’s intimidation and lack of democratic credentials, but to continue to do everything possible to ensure he returns to the path of decency by implementing the agreement he has with the workers.
Omar concluded his statement by saluting the courage and determination of the striking workers who have sustained the strike without violence or conducts capable of compromising the fragile peace in the state.