Thursday 29th September, 2011.
By V. AL-PEA
The Plateau State Government workers have this morning resumed their suspended strike. The workers who are demanding the implementation of the 18,000 naira minimum wage have declared that this time there’s no going back until their demands are fully met.
While speaking to TMV, one of the union members who pleaded anonymity blamed the government for failing to “continue negotiations with us as earlier agreed. That is why we have resorted to resume the strike”. Members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), including banks have also joined in the strike as a measure of solidarity for the plight of the workers. Public offices, hospitals and schools have remained closed.
As TMV visited Ahmadu Bello Way, the commercial nerve centre of the city, virtually all the banks situated there were under lock and key. Frustrated customers were seen loitering around as they vainly tried to do business. “When will all these nonsense stop?” an angry female customer who tried to use one of the ATM machine that had been temporarily disabled retorted. And as at the time of writing this report TMV gathered that other unions including that of the road transport workers are warming up for a total showdown the next day in support of the striking workers. A visit to the Joseph Gomwalk Secretariat revealed how the usually noisy and robust environment had suddenly become serene and quiet.
TMV also made futile attempts to know the position of government from the Special Adviser to the governor on labour matters, who is part of the team negotiating for the government. He was said to have traveled out of town.
And when TMV went to town to sample the opinions of the people concerning the industrial action, it was a mixed reaction. While some called for expedite truce between the workers and government in order to end the strike since it is the majority of the public that suffers as a result of their actions.
Others blatantly blamed the government for “its insensitivity to the plight of the workers. If other states have agreed to pay their workers in fact in some cases even more than the said amount, I see no sense in the government trying to inflict suffering on the people. More over the President and the National Assembly have already made provision for them (governors) in their monthly subvention to accommodate the minimum wage palaver,” barrister Musa John told TMV in a telephone chat.
It will be recalled that last month, the workers joined their counterparts in other states of the federation in a three days warning strike concerning the speedy implementation of the 18,000.00 naira minimum wage which had been passed into law by the National Assembly and assented to by President Jonathan. They subsequently called off the strike when the government acceded to their demands while the workers union gave a two weeks ultimatum for continuation of negotiations concerning how their request would be fully implemented.