By Okon Bassey
The Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel has approved the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for workers in the state.
The state government, in a statement dated January 21, 2020, said the implementation of the new minimum wage takes effect on January 2020, while a month arrears would be paid for December 2019.
However, the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has denied signing any agreement with the state government over the implementation of the new minimum wage, accusing the government of high handedness in the negotiation process.
The position of the state government was contained in a release from the office of the Head of Civil Service, Mr Effiong Essien, issued Wednesday in Uyo.
According to the statement, the approval for the payment by the governor “is in fulfillment of his earlier assurances to the workers on the implementation of the New National Minimum Wage”.
“His Excellency, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, has adopted and approved the payment of the New Minimum Wage in Akwa Ibom State with the Federal Government Negotiated Consequential adjustment percentages increase with effect from January 2020.
“The governor who approved the new minimum wage to be paid commencing this month, also directed that the December increase arrears be paid in subsequent months.
“In effect, with the payment of the approved one (1) month arrears, payment of the new minimum wage in Akwa Ibom State covers December 2019.
“The state government hereby appreciates the workers for their patience and understanding and urges them to reciprocate this gesture with dedication to duty, to fast-track the actualization of the completion agenda,” the statement said.
But reacting to the state government’s statement, the state Secretary of the NLC, Iboro Ibara, said negotiation with the government team was inconclusive, adding that Labour did not sign any agreement with the government.
Ibara accused the governor of high handedness and disrespect for the rule of law.
“This is a unilateral decision by government and it is not done anywhere. The Nigerian Laws provide for wages to be fixed via collective bargaining in line with Conventions 87 and 89 of the ILO (International Labour Organization) which Nigeria had since ratified.
“The arbitrariness exhibited by the government in this instance as in others speaks volumes about a regime that is fast becoming a one-man show.
“It also reveals an inherent contempt for freedom of the workplace which is a critical plank of democratic societies, as well as the fact that serious deficits exist in terms of capacity on the part of the administrators of the bureaucracy.
“By this action, the government is unwittingly igniting an industrial crisis of unmanageable proportions. Enough is enough,” the Secretary said.