Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Workers in Bayelsa State at the weekend heaved a sigh relief as Governor Seriake Dickson approved the payment of the N30,000 new minimum wage from this January.
Dickson, who gave the approval during a meeting with the leadership of organised labour in Government House, Yenagoa, also directed the state’s finance team to follow through the template set by the National Wages and Income Commission in implementing the new salary level.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said nothing was too much to be paid to workers in view of their contributions to national development.
Describing the state’s workforce as hardworking, Dickson, however, noted the need for the public service to remain apolitical, disciplined and professional in the discharge of its duties.
He explained that the meeting was convened to enable the state government and the labour unions to jointly work out the modalities for the payment of the new wage in such a way that Bayelsa State would not lag behind in its implementation.
The governor expressed appreciation to labour unions for their cooperation and understanding especially during the economic recession, and urged them to extend the kind gesture to the incoming government with a view to sustaining the prevailing industrial harmony in the state.
“I gave you a commitment that we are not (in principle) opposed to the payment of the N30,000 new national minimum wage. Today, I have made good that promise. Under normal circumstances, there is nothing we pay our hardworking employees that should be considered too much.
“I cannot thank you enough for the support, cooperation, understanding and patriotism you displayed to my administration for the past eight years, particularly during the period of the economic recession. My expectation is that the organised labour will extend this understanding and cooperation to the incoming government,” he said.
In their separate remarks, Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. John Ndiomu, and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Layi Julius, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting.
The labour leaders, who commended Dickson for fulfilling his promise on the implementation of the new minimum wage, assured workers that the issue of arrears arising from the new pay would be addressed by the incoming government.
According to them, the implementation of the new wage cuts across all workers in the public service, including primary school teachers and local government council workers in the state.
Ndiomu added that the governor also promised to complete the construction of the Labour House as well as pay the December salaries of pensioners and workers in tertiary institutions.
Bayelsa State Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council among other labour leaders lauded the governor for approving the payment of the new wage.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting, Bayelsa State Head of Service, Mrs. Biobelemoye Onyeama, assured that all modalities for the implementation of the minimum wage would soon be concluded to enable government to pay from this January.
Also speaking, the member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2 in Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Ebiwou Koku-Obiyai, said the approval and payment would enhance the income level and welfare of workers in the state.
Obiyai, who described Dickson as the most labour-friendly governor she has ever worked with, called on the succeeding administration to consolidate on the existing cordiality between government and labour in the state.
On his part, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Collins Cocodia, also described the approval as a good development that would enhance workers’ performance and general well-being and urged workers to reciprocate by doubling their efforts.