In recent times, the once peaceful Plateau State has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is either ethnic clashes, bombings or natural disasters, such as flooding. The culmination of this ethno-social disorder is that the state has lost its serenity. These social disorders, expectedly, are impacting negatively on the inter-personal relationship of the people living on the plateau. This, in the main, has affected industrial harmony in the state.
Only recently, the Plateau State government and representatives of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) reached a truce to call off the seven-month strike embarked upon by workers in the state. This industrial action, which involved the workers at the local government level, unfortunately affected all the schools and other institutions. The implication is that during the pendency of this strike, all the children of school age who were in public schools did not attend classes. What a monumental loss!
Even with the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, there are still sticking points. For instance, the meeting could not bring the government of Plateau State to accept to pay the salaries of the striking workers for the months of June-September, 2012.
The matter was rather referred to the National Industrial Court for interpretation: whether the affected workers are entitled to their salaries in accordance with the provisions of a United Nations resolution that no worker should be paid for the period he deliberately stayed out of office.
We are of the view that the Jang administration is in the breach of a salary benchmark of N18,000 that was nationally accepted.
The reference to the UN resolution amounts to begging the issue. It will be necessary to point out that, that resolution has not been domesticated in Nigeria.
The authorities, not just in Plateau State alone, should learn to abide by resolutions reached with labour unions, especially if such resolutions have the endorsement of the National Assembly. This not only aids industrial harmony, it also shows that the administrators are people of honour and integrity.
Now that this impasse has been resolved, the local government workers should reciprocate government's good gesture by being more dedicated to their duties. Workers at this level of governance always exhibit a nonchalant attitude to work. It should no longer be so. The lean economy of the various states, including Plateau State, implies that money should be judiciously spent. Only those who are qualified and show the desire to work should be retained at this level of governance.
As peace gradually returns to the Plateau, we want to implore the Jang administration to ensure that the harmonious relationship is sustained. This will aid the healing process and set the state, which was once a tourist destination, on the path of recovery.