As the nation waits on edge over the impending nationwide strike declared by the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC), the Delta, Rivers, Edo and Bayelsa state governments have restated their willingness to pay the proposed N30,000 benchmark minimum wage.
Organized Labour in the States have said there was no going back on the N30,000 minimum wage for workers across the country by the Tripartite Committee negotiating an acceptable wage.
The Organized Labour comprised the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC), faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who claimed that state governments cannot pay the N30,000.
Chairman of NLC in Delta state, Jonathan Jemiriegbe, while chatting with INDEPENDENT, vowed that labour will shut down the nation’s economy on November 6 if the Federal Government reneges on the agreement by the tripartite committee.
Jemiriegbe advised Nigerians to stock their homes with food, noting that the November 6 strike will be total and indefinite and insisted that negotiation has since ended with the Tripartite Committee, which had representatives of Federal Government, organised labour and the private sector.
“We are not happy with the way and manner the Federal Government representative is going about saying that there is no agreement. The Tripartite Committee agreed on N30,000 and there is no going back on that.”
In Bayelsa State, despite the fact that the State government under Governor Seriake Dickson had agreed to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000 demanded by organized labour, workers in the employ of the state government would also participate fully in the nationwide strike.
John Ndiomu, State Chairman of the NLC, commended the state government for accepting to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000 to its workforce but insisted that “injury to one, is injury to all. The directive is that everybody should join in the strike. As the strike progresses, we will know what to do,” he said.
It would be recalled that Luka Obiri, the Bayelsa State Head of Service, had during last Tuesday’s peaceful protest by organized labour to Government House, Yenagoa, assured the state chapters’ leaders of the NLC and the TUC that the Governor Dickson-led administration would pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000 to workers.
“I want to assure Bayelsa workers that government is in support of your quest for minimum wage. The N30,000 minimum wage will be implemented by the state government.
“In an anticipation of that, Governor Seriake Dickson has directed the Head of Service and the Finance Committee to start working out the modalities for the implementation of whatever decision that is agreed and such a decision will be adhered to by the government,” the state HoS had stated.
Similarly in Rivers, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said he would not oppose the upward review of minimum wage for workers but that it could only be sustained when the revenue sharing formula of the country is also reviewed.
“I will never oppose the upward. But the revenue sharing formula must be reviewed. Assuming a state like Zamfara gets N3billion monthly and their monthly wage bill is N4billion, then the state will not survive. Labour should understand the situation, according to www.independent.ng.
“You cannot talk of sustainable new minimum wage when you have not reviewed the revenue sharing formula. More of the money should be moved from the Federal Government to the states that bear the burden of governance.
On their part, the organized labour in Rivers recently insisted on N66,500 as national minimum wage for the workers in the country and not the N30,000 being bantered.
Leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria held public hearing on national minimum wage in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital, they insisted on the N66,500 benchmark as ideal sum for workers.
According to them, the existing N18,000 minimum wage was of no economic significance in the present economic situation.
According to Beatrice Otobo and Austin Jonathan, NLC and TUC chairmen respectively in the state, said the proposed N66,500 was not “a take home due to deductions-tax, and compulsory pension contributions.”
“It is not a take home because of tax deductions among others,” Jonathan said. He noted that part of the proposed N66,500 would go to healthcare.
In Edo State, the State Government has promised to pay the N30,000 if it is agreed and approved by all stakeholders.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, confirmed this.
He said: “Edo State Government is ready to pay the 30,000 even today if it is approved.”
He said the state government has before now made its position known on the issue of new minimum wage that whatever amount agreed upon it will abide by it.
All efforts to reach the Edo State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun, failed as he was said to be among the officers meeting with the federal government in Abuja.