BY EMEKA MAMAH
The Benue State Government has said the payment of N18,000 minimum wage will start in November this year, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Dr David Salifu has said.
In a statement made available to Vanguard, Salifu said the new implementation date was to ‘’allow time for the state government to send an executive bill to the State House of Assembly for enactment since the minimum wage regime was not accommodated in the 2011 Appropriations Act.’’
The government further said, ‘’to pay the minimum wage without an enabling legislation would amount to a serious breach of the constitution,’’ adding that the agreement provided for payment of arrears of the minimum wage with effect from August.
The statement entiltled, ‘’The Benue State government’s position on the N18, 000 minimum wage”, read in part, ‘’in the last few days there has been misinformation from some workers and members of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on the state government’s position on the payment of the N18, 000 minimum wage.
‘’It has, therefore, become necessary to make further clarifications on the issue as it pertains to workers in the employment of Benue State.
‘’Following the approval of the N18,000 minimum wage by legislation, the Benue State government commenced negotiations with the NLC and TUC, in the state in order to arrive at common grounds for its implementation.
‘’In this direction, series of meetings were held between officials of the state government and leaders of the NLC and TUC to iron out knotty issues. The government delegations to these meetings were led either by Governor Gabriel Suswam or his Deputy, Chief Steven Lawani.
‘’The umbrella organizations-NLC and TUC- were led by their leaders, Comrade Simon Anchaver and Comrade Ordue Tartenger respectively.
‘’After series of negotiations, government signed an agreement with labour on Monday, 26th September, 2011. Highlights of the agreement are as follows:
‘’Government agreed to pay N18, 000 minimum wage for all workers in the state civil service currently earning below N18,000
‘’In order to maintain seniority in the service which was erased as a result of the new minimum wage, the issue of relativity between various grade levels from Grade Level One to 17 was also addressed and a chart showing the increment from one grade level to the other was negotiated and also agreed upon.
‘’No worker would be victimised as a result of his or her role in the negotiations and all other activities relating to the N18, 000 minimum wage.
‘’ As a result of the agreement, workers in Benue State have since shelved the three-day warning strike which was scheduled to start from 28th September, 2011 and have been carrying out their normal official activities.
‘’From the foregoing, the Benue state Government wishes to condemn in very strong terms, attempts by some unscrupulous labour leaders to create disaffection and crisis situation in labour circles where none actually exists.
‘’Such labour leaders who have been spreading misleading information through unsigned leaflets are hereby advised to desist from this unwholesome and criminal activity or be prepared to face the law for their mischief.
Similarly, Government hereby warns the opposition ACN to desist from its desperate attempt to incite the workers against the state government on the N18,000 minimum wage issue since there is no fertile ground for such mischief.
‘’Besides, Governor Suswam has restored the dignity of the civil servants through prompt promotions, appointments of permanent secretaries on the basis of seniority, among others.’’