The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has accused workers protesting the non-payment of the 30,000 minimum wage of causing hardship on other residents by their actions.
He stated this Sunday at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day church service at COCIN headquarters in Jos, the state capital.
For about a month, the local government workers who have not benefited from the new minimum wage have taken to the streets.
After the holidays, the workers resumed the protest on Monday at the state secretariat in Jos but were violently dispersed by a combined team of security operatives, gathered.
The operatives fired teargas and brutalised some of the protesters in the process.
Despite the repressive actions of the government, the workers continued their agitations, blocking roads and besieging the state secretariat.
However, during his speech on Sunday, Mr Lalong addressed issues regarding the workers’ demonstrations, accusing the protesters of mischief.
“Let me use this opportunity to also touch on the issue of the implementation of the new 30 thousand minimum wage which has become a matter of protests among Local Government employees. They have for over one month engaged in various actions including blocking of roads, and locking up the State Secretariat despite the fact that negotiations are going on.
“Because they have misinformed many and embarked on a campaign of calumny and blackmail against the Government and my person, I need to make some clarifications for everyone who cares to know that I will be the last person to truncate the implementation of the new minimum wage at the local government level when I had agreed to pay state employees,” he said.
He said that since he has approved that local government autonomy be implemented in the state, all funds belonging to that tier of government go straight to them.
“It is, therefore, the duty of the local governments to negotiate the new minimum wage with their employees based on their capacity to pay. This is the same thing that happened at the federal and state levels.”
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He said despite his intervention to ensure that the matter was quickly resolved through a Technical Committee, the workers embarked on protests and caused hardship to other citizens.“They have also called me unprintable names forgetting that I have a soft spot for workers,” he said.
He then advised the workers to embrace dialogue and allow the Technical Committee to come up with their findings.
“I am always conscious of the Biblical injunction that says a worker deserves his wages. The records are there for everyone to verify my commitment towards this. So it is incorrect to say that I am holding local government salaries. It is not true.
“My advice to them is to embrace dialogue and sit with their employers or at least allow the Technical Committee to come up with their findings rather than politicize the matter,” he said.
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