Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Minimum wage, maximum battleA’Ibom workers insist on strike•Govt releases N5.5b

Despite Akwa Ibom State government release
of the sum of N5.5 billion for the payment
of the new minimum wage and to take its
arrears from April 201, the Nigeria Labour
Congress in the state is not amused.
To them, strike is the only language the state
government understands as they have vowed
to proceed on an indefinite strike on October
28, 2011, unless the minimum wage palaver in
the state is corrected.
The state commissioner for information and
communications, Mr Aniekan Umanah had
addressed the press in the evening of Tuesday
announcing that release of the funds which
he described as “unprecedented in the annals
of democratic governance in the country and
indeed a further demonstration of the present
administration’s good gesture to workers in
the state.”
Labour and government have been embroiled
in war of word overs the minimum wage table
released by the latter which pegs the minimum
wage at N18,026.39 as against federal
government’s N18,900; and while a level eight
step five officer in the federal civil service
earn N62,955.25, their counterpart in Akwa
Ibom state government earns only N45,
899.41 as monthly consolidated salary.
But Umanah said that the figure paid was in
furtherance of an earlier agreement reached
between government and organised labour who
agreed as to payment of 69 per cent
increment from levels 1-6; 65 per cent
increment from level 7-13, and 60 per cent to
salary grade levels 14-17 on relativity basis.
In further demonstration of government
magnanimity to workers, government had
since paid leave grant based on 10 per cent of
annual salary to workers, as well as retain the
50per cent tax rebate, in addition to
allowance of five domestic staff to those on
grade level 16-17 in the service as well as the
sustenance of the 13the month salary,
popularly known as Akpabiomber.
“It must be noted that in July 2010, the
Federal Government increased the salary of
its workforce by 53.37 per cent and to comply
with the minimum wage act 2011, the Federal
Government in August 2011, further
increased its minimum wage from N17, 026 to
N18,900 –an increase of eleven per cent –
leave grant inclusive – making an aggregate
increase of about 64 per cent.
“Akwa Ibom State was one of the first state
governments to agree pay the new minimum
wage regime. It was based on this agreement
that government increased the minimum
wage of its employees from N10, 666.50 to
N18, 026 representing an increase of 69 per
cent, leave grant exclusive. From the above, it
could be seen that Akwa Ibom workers earn
more than the federal workers in relative
Umanah stressed that the negotiation
between government and labour leading to
agreement was done under a relaxed and free
atmosphere and was signed by all trade unions
in the public sector.
“However, government would continue to call
on the organised labour for patience to
understand that wage issues are always open
to review, and therefore assures that the
present wage regime will be reviewed
immediately revenue sharing formula is
reviewed early next year by the federal
But reacting to Umanah’s press briefing, the
state chairman of NLC, Mr Unyime Usoro
said releasing N5.5 billion for payment of
workers salary was not an event that should
attract a world press conference as
government had been spending more than
that without telling people.
Apparently taunting the commissioner,
Usoro posed on the wall of his facebook page;
“How I wish each time they spend a billion
naira they would call a press conference, then
in July alone, they would have called 53 press
conferences; in September, 21, etc. Wait a
minute, did I hear you sayN5.5 billion for
September salary and arrears of five months.
Did your government not claim that it would
cost it additional N1.5 billion to implement
the minimum wage monthly? Who is fooling
Usoro even accused the commissioner of
plagiarising him because a section of the press
statement issued the state government was
dubbed form an earlier statement issued by
labour. “
“Take a look at the press statement issued by
labour some weeks ago on modalities for the
implementation of minimum wage in Akwa
Ibom state; take out my sentences and
phrases and let’s see what remains of your so-
called press statement. Are you sure Grade
Levels 15-17 have five domestic servants? I
doubt if I you had the mandate of His
Excellency, the governor to speak on this
How can the governor be assuring workers of
an immediate review of the rejected salary
while you, quoting 2 months old press
statement which said ‘the present wage
regime would be reviewed immediately revenue
sharing formula is reviewed early next year by
the Federal Government’.”
The labour leader alleged that the
commissioner was misinforming the people;
and “for your misinformation and
disorientation, labour stand on embarking on
an indefinite strike if government does not
review and correct the defective salary table by
October 28, 2011 remains irrevocable.”
He added an Ibibio proverb ku uyem iko ye
ayem iko owo meaning: “Don’t look for
trouble with a trouble maker.” He however did
not explain who the trouble maker is – labour
or government.

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