14 January 2013

Nigeria: Plateau Council Workers Get Two Months Salary

Jos — Most of the 17 local governments of Plateau State received two months of a seven-month salary backlog at the weekend, falling short of expectation of workers who have been expecting at least three months of the backlog, it was gathered.

When Plateau labour and government representatives met with the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, on December 20, 2012 on the dispute over salary arrears, the agreement was for government to immediately pay three months of the arrears, and for the state government and labour to conclude talks within one month after the Abuja meeting on how the balance of four months would be paid.

Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State had withheld the salary of the workers for the seven months that the workers were on strike, beginning from June last year, on the strength of his no-work-no-pay policy. Following talks with a diverse array of stakeholders spanning the months of the labour-government dispute, Governor Jang announced last month while his officials were meeting with labour in Abuja that he was going to pay all council workers returning from strike three months of their withheld salaries.

But labour leaders told Daily Trust yesterday that as at last Friday, none of the 17 local government areas had paid up to three months.

"Government has failed in its agreement to immediately pay three of the seven-month salary arrears of council workers, some of the local governments had paid two months as at Friday, some have not even paid at all," Chairman of Jos North Local Government chapter of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) James Nyam said yesterday.

The Plateau State Chairman of the union, Samson Mafuyai, confirmed to Daily Trust that while most of the local governments had paid two months, Bassa Local Government had paid only one month while Jos South had not paid any of its workers at all.

"Other local government areas have paid two of the three months that were supposed to be paid without delay," Mafuyai told Daily Trust.

The Plateau State chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Jibril Bancir, who also spoke on the issue yesterday, said the various local governments had promised to complete the payment of the initial three months this week.

"This exercise is being handled by the various local governments and because they complain of certain challenges, workers are exercising patience with them," Bancir said.

Efforts to get the chairmen of Bassa and Jos South local governments on why they are behind other council areas in the salary payment did not yield the desired response but the Chairman of Plateau State chapter of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and caretaker chairman of Barkin-Ladi Local Government, Emmanuel Loman, told Daily Trust yesterday that the delay in paying the initial three months of the salary arrears was being caused essentially by the time-consuming process of raising payment vouchers.

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