The Plateau Government says it is eager to commence the payment of N18,000 minimum wage to its local government staff if revenue accruing to the councils improves.
Dr Paul Wai, the state Commissioner for Local Government, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Thursday that receipts from the federation accounts were dwindling.
He said that paucity of funds had always been the issue and urged the labour leaders to tell their followers the truth.
Wai said that the alternative was to audit the councils and weed out ghost workers, who he said, constituted no fewer than 50 per cent of the workers in the 17 local governments.
He said that if the workers called off the strike, this could be done and would guarantee a release of funds to meet their demands in the interim.
Wai, however, said that the issue of ghost workers was largely a creation of the local government workers, especially the leadership that had been benefiting from it.
The commissioner said that he met the debacle on assumption of office barely one year ago and his efforts to tackle the scourge had always met stiff opposition.
“They would always raise one form of opposition or the other to stifle the attempt and make it ineffectual,” he said
He, however, insisted that auditing was the best option for now and appealed to the organised labour and the workers to return to work to have the exercise done.
?“Once the weeding is done, we will negotiate the increment with the workers and pay even 100 per cent.
“The issue now is paying the people who do not deserve it,” he said.
Wai said that was optimistic that the end of the five-month old strike was in sight following efforts by some elders who had waded into the matter.
?“We have been trying to make labour see reasons, the strike is uncalled for as the reasons no longer hold,” he said.
“The 50 per cent that we have been paying the council workers was based on our agreement with them.
“The situation has not improved for a review; the income is rather on the decline and even then, the state was forced to offer something additional to see an end to the strike,” he said.
NAN reports that the council workers have been on strike since June 4 and have defied threats of the government of “now work no pay”, demanding for implementation of N18,000 minimum wage.