BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU, Calabar
There are indication sthat the Cross River State government will not continue the payment of N18. 000 to its workforce, rather it may pay N10, 000, following the dwindling fortune of the state resources.
Investigation by Saturday Vanguard revealed that the government and its workforce were back to the negotiating table over payment of the N18,000 minimum wage. Governor Liyel Imoke was among the first governors that accepted to pay the new federal government recommended minimum wage which has attracted commendation to him from the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.
A labour leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of victimization, at the governor’s office alleged that the state government has set in motion a machinery to reduce the new minimum wage to N10,000.
The leader said he alongside other labour leaders were invited to the governor’s office last Thursday to dialogue with the state government on how this could be realized without workers resisting it as they are already enjoying the new minimum wage introduced by the Federal Government.
According to him, the meeting was chaired by the deputy governor Mr. Efiok Cobham and the government’s plan was fully revealed but the unionists denounced the move describing it as wicked and capable of disrupting the industrial peace being enjoyed in the state.
At the end of the meeting, negotiators from labour came out with long faces from the office of the deputy governor but Cobham could not be reached for comment and no official statement was made as it was suppose to be top secret for now.
However, one of the labour leaders said both the NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, were ready to exploit all options available to them to resist the planned reduction of the N18,000 minimum wage.
“How can this be possible? Government commenced payment of the N18, 000 new minimum wage in August and now wants to review it downward when every worker now makes his or her budget based on the new pay”, the trade unionist said.
According to him, “this can not be possible and we have told government our mind. In order not to incur our wrath, government should forget the idea in its entirety”.
He maintained that it is unheard of in any place in the world to increase the salary of workers for one month only to start negotiations the following month for its downward review and advised government to drop the plan in view of the high cost of living in the country.
“Politicians are busy amassing wealth, buying cars, building sky scrapers why should the little stipends of the workers be reviewed downwards.
“If there should be any downward review, it should be the salaries of the politicians so that our God given wealth will go round”, they said.