An agreement has been reached between the Akwa Ibom state government and organised labour on payment of minimum wage.
This was revealed by the Commissioner for Labour and Man Power Planning, Professor Victor Inoka, during a telephone interview with select newsmen soon after signing of the agreement after days of tense negotiations.
According to him, “the agreement was that we pay exactly the federal government negotiated and approved percentages increase and the consequential adjustments therein.
The federal government and organised labour had both agreed on 66.66% increase for workers between level 01 and 06, 23.2% increase for workers on 07, 20% increase for level 08 workers and 19% increase for level 09 workers
They also agreed that for level 10-14 workers, there’ll be a 16% salary increase, while for those on level 15 to 17, there’ll be a 14%, on the consolidated public service salary structure.
This agreement was signed between the federal government and organised labour on Thursday, October 17, 2019, to effect the new N30,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The Labour Commissioner revealed that as a fallout of the recent agreement an Akwa Ibom worker from the lowest cadre will go home with a salary above national minimum wage.
“What people don’t realise is that we were not really paying N18, 000 before. Akwa Ibom was paying more than N18, 000. We were paying up to N19, 000 when N18, 000 was the national minimum wage.
“The implication is that once we adopted the new minimum wage on top of the salary that was on ground the minimum wage earner in Akwa Ibom State will earn above the national minimum wage.
“Government has exceeded expectation. Unlike most states, the governor accepted to pay worker one-month arrears. Representatives of Labour, NLC & TUC, all have agreed to this and we have signed an agreement.
He said if there is any disparity in the salary of health workers in the state with that of their colleagues in other core oil-producing state, such would be looked into as appropriate.
“The percentages signed by the federal government have all been adopted, but there is also an understanding that whatever peculiar issues were there will need further discussions to see how that can be ameliorated”. He said.
The commissioner further revealed that both parties have agreed on the issue of arrears of minimum wage.
According to him, “statistics were brought from other states to see how many states have agreed to pay arrears. They (Labour) saw the magnanimity of Governor Udom Emmanuel in paying the arrears despite the meagre resources available.
“Federal government had concluded their own wef April , leaving the states to engage in collective bargaining with Labour, so you can’t blame states on issues of arrears. I’m sure most states have not paid arrears”.
Meanwhile, workers have started receiving January salary alerts. However, Prof. Inoka hinted that workers are expected to start enjoying their salary upgrade from February, explaining that although “the governor had wanted workers to start enjoying the new minimum wage this month [January], but it has just been discovered that salary vouchers for the month had already been prepared and submitted.
“Although the payment takes effect this January, since salary vouchers have been prepared they shall start receiving from February”. He said.
The signing of the agreement between leadership of the organised labour in the state has put an end to weeks of tense negotiations.
The leadership of organised labour including the Chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunny James, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Dominic Abang, the Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Tina Essien and her Secretary, Comrade Akamba Awa as well as the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Anestina Iweh, thanked the state government for being sensitive to the plight of the civil servants by approving the implementation of the new minimum wage in the state.
The Union leaders also acknowledged that with the approval for the payment of the new minimum wage, Akwa Ibom workers will also enjoy the benefits of the new minimum wage law as their counterparts in other states of the federation and pledged their continued support and co-operation with Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration.