Salary in some states in Nigeria is a luxury and Plateau State is just one place that is becoming obvious. 

Workers in tertiary institutions in the state have now decided to down tools to push for the payment of their salaries.

The indefinite strike was called by the Joint Union of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions (JUPTI) to push for the payment of over 5 months salary arrears. 

It is coming a week after a letter dated August 23 and signed by JUPTI Chairman and Secretary, Paul Dakogol and Ayum Solomon, respectively gave the government a seven-day ultimatum within which the arrears should be paid.

They had threatened to go on strike should the government fail to pay. 

The union had reached an agreement with the government which promised to pay the backlog of salaries before the end of 2016, but failed to do so, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

At Jos campus of the Plateau State Polytechnic, students were denied access into the school premises, as the main entrance was under lock and key.

Mr Luka Panpe, Secretary, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Plateau Polytechnic Chapter, and a member of JUPTI, told NAN that the strike became necessary owing to the failure of government to keep to its side of the bargain.

He said the union had reached an agreement with government who promised to clear the salary arrears before the end of 2017, but failed.

“Our five months salaries was withheld because of the no work, no pay policy introduced by the previous administration. We took government to court in search of justice.

“But when the current government came on board, it pleaded with us to suspend our strike and withdraw the case from court, with a promise to pay us before the end of 2016, and we did.

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“However, due to government’s failure to keep to its part of the agreement for the whole of 2016 and 2017, we again met with it in February. 2018. It promised to pay the arrears between April and July.

“We are now in September, and they haven’t said anything, and we have not seen any readiness that we will be paid soon.

“This is why we have decided to resume the indefinite strike that government earlier pleaded with us to suspend,” he said.

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When contacted, Mr Yakubu Dati, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, attributed the failure of government to pay the arrears to paucity of funds.

“Government has tabled the five-months arrears for payment, but we couldn’t do it until now because of scarce resources at our disposal.

“The issue of workers emolument is a priority to this government, but we can only do that judiciously within the resources available to us.

“So, we want to plead and we will continue to plead with the union to exercise patience and return to work because soon, we shall put this matter to rest, ” he said.

The Federal Government had in 2017 released tranches of the Paris Club Refund to states to pay salaries, but some states in Nigeria are still owing workers several months salaries. 

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