19th November, 2010
Members of the Plateau State House of Assembly (PLHA) were locked out of theirÂ offices on Thursday by workers of the Assembly, protesting non-payment of theirÂ dressing allowances.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesting workers, who resumedÂ work after the Sallah festivities, wearing mournful looks and clad in black dressesÂ to demonstrate their plights, began a sit-down strike, locking all entrances to theÂ Assembly Complex.
â€œNo one should blame us for going this far, we are left with no option,â€™â€™ Mr. JackÂ Bature, the Chairman of the PLHA workers told NAN.
Bature said that the authorities had pushed the workers to the wall, leaving themÂ with no option.
â€œThey (authorities) have been deceiving us with endless promises over the payment ofÂ the dressing allowances since January.
â€œWhen we protested two weeks ago, they promised to pay us on Friday Nov. 12. ThatÂ day had since passed,â€™â€™ he said.
But a miffed Speaker of the Plateau House of Assembly, Mr. Istifanus Mwansat,Â debunked the claims of the workers, describing their action as â€œunfortunate andÂ illegal.â€™â€™
â€œA work-to-rule action, by labour law, does not give them the right to lock up theÂ gates against legislators and others who want to do their legitimate work.
â€œI think the workers are taking this issue too far. In fact, no one is even certainÂ if what they are fighting for is legitimate.
â€œThe year 2010 has not ended, so I wonder why the workers should embark on such aÂ protest, I bet you that it will do no one any good.â€™â€™
The Speaker, who described the workersâ€™ action as condemnable,â€™â€™stated that effortsÂ were being made to address their plight.
â€œWe are already doing something about their complaints but we cannot continue suchÂ efforts if the gates are locked,â€™â€™ he said.
â€œWe were elected by the people of Plateau State to represent them and I wonder whyÂ they (workers) should obstruct our functions.â€™â€™
The Clerk of the House, Mrs. Helen Chindusu, who also reacted, said that discussionÂ had â€œcommenced in earnest towards solving the problemâ€™â€™.
Chindusu appealed to the striking workers to consider the good working relationshipÂ they had enjoyed over the years and give room for more dialogue. (NAN)