The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and unions in the 17 local governments in Plateau State, has rejected the pronouncement of Governor Jonah Jang that he would enforce “no work no pay” policy in dealing with the six-month old strike embarked upon by workers in the local government.
According to the NLC, there is no law in Nigeria that says “no work, no pay, adding that it is only a convention of the International Labour Convention (ILO), adding that a convention is not a law.
Addressing a press conference yesterday at the NUJ Press Centre in Jos, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and Vice Chairman of NLC, Mr. Gunshin Yarlings who read the text of the briefing on behalf of the State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Jibrin Banchir, who was unavoidably absent, said that the aides of the governor have misled him into believing that convention is the same as law.
Banchir stated that all the trade unions in the state have unanimously agreed that they are not going to suspend the six-month old industrial action until the governor rescind his unpopular decision of “no work no pay,” adding that they embarked on the strike legally. The union further stated that it is the government has reneged on the collective agreement to pay when there is an increase in the revenue allocation to the state.
The NLC chairman debunked the governor’s claim that if 100 percent minimum wage is implemented, the state economy would be grounded. It is his view that since state government workers are now enjoying the minimum wage as approved by the President, they too should enjoy it as they too go to the same market to buy foodstuffs.
Government, according to NLC, is only buying time, whether the minimum wage is paid now or transferred to the incoming government, “we must be paid fully.”
On why the strike has been persistent, he said that the labourer deserves his wages, adding that if the wages are being denied the labourer, the labourer can get the wages through whatever means available to hm. “The labourers are correct in their struggle in this strike.”
Banchir stated yesterday, “The five unions rejected the position of the state governor that June, July, August and September 2012 salaries of the striking local government workers will not be paid on grounds that they never work during the period as he had invoked the no work no pay convention by the ILO. The unions equally rejected the directives that October 2012 salary be paid on compassionate grounds and to be used for screening of staff for one month with other months that are due to be paid as and when due.”
According to NLC chairman the unions maintained that the strike itself would have been averted if the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and ALGON acted when it mattered most. “This is due to the fact that the official side failed to honour paragraph 3 of the collective agreement which provided that there should be an increase in salaries in the same month an increase is noticed in the statutory revenue allocation. Thus, the strike action which followed due process became inevitable as provided in the Trade Union’s Amendment Act, 2005.”
The meeting of the five unions also critically examined the pronouncement by the governor during the stakeholders’ meeting where he stated that he had evidence that the opposition had posted money into accounts of labour leaders to sustain the strike so as to frustrate his administration.
“The unions therefore challenged the governor to publish his claim otherwise it will be viewed as a calculated attempt to blackmail labour leaders and set them up against the Plateau people, thus portray them in a bad light. The unions therefore call for immediate retrieval of the statement in the interest of industrial peace and harmony in the state,” Banchir added.
As a matter of fact, the labour argues, “If not for these public schools which have been closed for the past six months those in government today would have not been where they are including the governor himself. The governor and his administration have no choice but to rise up to this challenge and ensure that normal services return to the local government councils.”
But on Wednesday, October 7, while receiving the report submitted by the Stakeholders’ Committee led by former Military Governor of the State, Rear Admiral Samuel Bitrus Atukum (rtd) which negotiated with labour; Governor promised that government would look diligently into the report submitted by the elders. He said the state government will be a perpetual borrower of loans if the N18,000 minimum wage is fully implemented which he said would be disastrous to the state economy.
Jang said the ILO law of no work no pay is already being implemented in the state.