Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Assembly Moves to Avert Strike by Nigerian Labour Congress

N’Assembly moves to avert strike by Labour

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 00:00
From Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja), Abiodun Fagbemi (Ilorin) and Iyabo Lawal (Ibadan)
Nigerian Guardian

Oyo workers accuse gov of reneging on promise

THE federal legislature has taken steps to prevent a looming industrial unrest in the country over the three tiers of government’s non-implementation of the N18,000 new national minimum wage.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, assured yesterday that the National Assembly would do all that is needed to ensure that the issues at stake are resolved before the expiration of the two-week ultimatum given by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to the Federal Government to implement the Minimum Wage Act.

He said both chambers of the legislature had intervened in the matter and expressed the confidence that a truce would be reached in the interest of the country.

Responding to questions on the issue in the National Assembly, Tambuwal insisted that dialogue was the most effective means of resolving the issues involved.

Tambuwal said: “We have begun consultations over the issue. I can assure you that we will do everything possible to engage the organised Labour and other parties in constructive dialogue to resolve the minimum wage issue. The issue is very sensitive and as the representatives of the people, we will go the extra mile to ensure that it is addressed.

“The House under my leadership will in conjunction with the Senate meet the parties and resolve the issue amicably. And I can assure you that we will address the issue before the end of the 14-day ultimatum just as all hands are on deck to resolve the dispute for the progress and development of the country.”

Meanwhile, workers in Oyo State are set for a showdown with the state government over its alleged reversal to the old N9,400 against the N14,000 being negotiated.

After an emergency meeting at the Agodi secretariat of the state NLC, the workers wondered why Governor Abiola Ajimobi would rescind on his earlier promise to pay them the Ekiti State model of N14,000.

In line with the new directive from the national leadership of the union, the workers insisted on the N18,000 minimum wage.

The state NLC Chairman, Bashiru Olanrewaju, told reporters yesterday that Ajimobi reneged on his promise to continue to pay N14,000 as minimum wage as obtained in Ekiti State by reverting to N9,400, which was the old grade before the agitation for the new wage.

Ajimobi had paid N18,000 as minimum wage for the month of May, but said the government could not continue the payment as it would need to borrow N200 million monthly to be able to pay the wage bill.

Olanrewaju said: “We met and discussed the minimum wage issue and how the negotiation with the state government could work out for the progress of the state.

However, we discovered that the governor was no longer talking even of the N14,000 he said he would pay. He directed the ministry officials in charge of preparing vouchers to go and prepare N9,400, which was the old rate before the minimum wage agitation.

We have decided that we are meeting with the governor to make our position known. After the meeting, we will have another congress today (Wednesday) where we will decide the next line of action.

“If the governor, who had during the electioneering campaigns promised to pay us even N18,500 could now renege and revert from paying the negotiated N14,000, to be talking of the old rate, it means we are on a path of crisis.
We are not accepting such a regime where the government will make us to go back when we are already moving forward.”

Also, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) has described any state of the federation that cannot implement the new wage as unviable and unfit to be tagged a state.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Rafiu Salau, said yesterday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, that it remained an abuse of economic terminologies for any state governor to be tying the payment of the salary to the federal allocations, noting that modern governance thrives on ability to boost Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and human capital development.

The party, therefore, urged the state governors to see their present offices as that fashioned out by the constitution for accelerated human development in line with other growing democracies of the world.

“No state that relies on only the federal statuary allocation can meet up with its duty to the people. It is the responsibility of a state government to provide consolidated economic environment for its people. It is also its duty to empower its indigenes by providing job opportunities,” he said.

Similarly, civil servants in Rivers State have appealed to both the Federal and state governments to implement the new pay without further delay.

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