756 views | Elochukwu Benjamin | February 4, 2020
The Organised Labour in Anambra State has handed the State Government a 14-day ultimatum to pay the New National Minimum Wage of #30,000 or face industrial action.
The warning was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the State Executive Council meeting of the Organised Labour at the Labour House in Awka.
Governor Willie Obiano had pledged that Anambra state will be among the first states to implement the New minimum wage and had at the 2019 Public Service Day, reiterated the pledge.
Subsequently, a Joint Negotiation Council was set up to handle the consequential adjustments and an agreement was reached and signed by Labour and the State Government on the 24th of January, for the implementation to commence by January, 2020.
Investigations reveal that when the salaries started dropping, it was a disappointment to the state workers as some of them who spoke on the condition of anonymity said there were mere additions of between #2,000 and #5,000 to their initial salaries.
The Organised labour in the communique, expressed dissatisfaction over thenon-implementation of the agreement reached between the labour and state government.
It was jointly signed by the Joint Negotiations Council (JNC) Chairman, Comrade Benson Jibike, Chairman of Anambra State chapter of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Jerry Nnubia, the State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, Acting Secretary of JNC/secretary of Anambra State Civil service of Nigeria (ASCSN), Barr. Alex Ebi and Secretary, Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Netufo Segun.
The communiqué faulted the non-issuance of circular and salary chart on the agreed new salary before payment of the January 2020 as agreed between the government and organised labour and further warned that if nothing is done to address the issues, they may not guarantee industrial peace in the state.
Speaking on the development, the State NLC Chairman, Comrade Nnubia emphasized that what government paid was just bonuses to workers.
“We feel disappointed that the government reneged on what was agreed. Any new salary regime is preceded by a circular and salary chart and this was what we agreed on also on the 24th of January when we met. But surprisingly, we did not see any. They just added between two and five thousand naira on the salary, without telling us how they came about it. After the grace period, we would meet and decide the next step forward,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the State Government has berated Labour in the State for issuing an ultimatum to it instead of coming back to the government to disclose its grievances.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour Matters, Comrade Goddy Ibekwe who spoke to our correspondent, said if there is any point that the table did not reflect what was agreed on, it should not warrant issuance of ultimatum to the government.
“The instruction is that government and labour should negotiate on what they will be able to pay and immediately that negotiation is concluded and an agreement signed, they should go to the office of the Head of Service to find out why the circular was not issued out. It is not what will warrant ultimatums. I still maintain that the Labor/government relationship in the state is very cordial. The government has not said it is not going to pay the new minimum wage. Ultimatum looks like the government has decided not to pay,” he said.
Ibekwe who was a former labour leader in the state advised the leadership of the JNC to find out what went wrong and go back to the government to report.
He said, “the machinery responsible for making payment to the workers are part of the negotiating team; the accountant general and the JAC secretary and I believe that once there is an agreement and the approval of the governor goes to them, they pay as agreed. If there is any difference between what was agreed and what was paid, they should come back and tell the government and if the government fails to do something, that is when they should be issuing an ultimatum.”