Striking local government workers in Plateau State have agreed to suspend their seven-month-old industrial action embarked upon to protest against the non-implementation of N18,000 minimum wage by Governor Jonah Jang.
The suspension followed the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, who brokered a truce between the workers and the state government on Thursday in Abuja.
This development coincided with a petition by the Nigeria Labour Congress to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, alleging harassment of striking workers by the police.
It was agreed during the Abuja meeting attended by representatives of the Plateau State Government and the organised labour that the workers be paid their three months salaries from October to December immediately.
It was also resolved that the state government, the NLC President and the Labour Minister would address the payment of the outstanding salaries from June to September in January 2013.
The communiqué said to have been signed by the parties, also noted that they should partner to carry out a biometric screening of all the local government workers in the state.
It was also resolved that the parties should collaborate to boost the internally generated revenue of the state.
In suspending the action, the parties agreed that no worker would be victimised for participating in the strike.
Meanwhile, the NLC acting General Secretary, Mr. Chris Uyot, in a letter dated December 20, said the police had “occupied” the entrance of the NLC secretariat in Jos, following the dispute between the workers and the state government.
Uyot said the policemen were not only preventing workers from accessing the secretariat but also were intimidating and harassing them.
He warned that the police action could adversely affect the ongoing efforts by the Minister of Labour and Productivity to mediate in the dispute.
He further said the “continued occupation” of the secretariat by the police could threaten the fragile peace in the state.
He therefore urged the IG to order his men out of the premises to prevent a breakdown of negotiation.
The petition read, “This is to bring to your attention the deteriorating security situation in Plateau State following the refusal of the state government to pay arrears of six months minimum wage salary to local government workers of the state, and the harassment and intimidation of workers following their peaceful strike action.
“As we write to you today, the police have laid siege to the state secretariat of the NLC in Jos, not only disallowing labour leaders to enter the premises, but also harassing and violently attacking workers.
“This avoidable attack on workers is happening in the face of ongoing dialogue between the NLC and the state government being brokered by the Minister of Labour today (Thursday) in Abuja.
“We crave your indulgence to use your good offices and intervene in the prevailing crisis in Jos, by directing the police to vacate the state council secretariat of the NLC, as their continued occupation of the premises might not only adversely affect the current negotiations, but escalate into unpleasant clashes with security forces with dire consequences on the already fragile security situation in the state.”