From Our Correspondents
Nigerian workers under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade union Congress (TUC) Tuesday joined their counterparts across the world to celebrate this year’s May Day.
Workers in Abia State celebrated this year’s May Day in high spirits praising Governor Theodore Orji, for implementing the new minimum wage for workers without a fight and even exceeding the benchmark of N18,000 by paying N20,100 to workers.
Chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Mr. Chuks Ebeniro, expressed the workers feelings in his address, noting that Abia and Imo States were the only states in the South-east where workers were enjoying the new minimum wage with Abia paying the highest.
He however called on the state government to extend the payment of the new minimum wage to the parastatals that are yet to enjoy the implementation.
The fear of the unknown, occasioned by the insecurity in the North-east, region took its toll on the workers’ day celebrations in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, as about 200 workers turned up for the traditional May Day march past, at the Ribadu Square, Yola.
In spite of the heavy police presence at the venue, which was attended by the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr. James Bala Ngillari, few workers turned up for the march past due to fears that there might be some security breach at the venue.
Addressing the workers, Governor Murtala Nyako, represented by Ngillari said: “Our progress is being retarded by insecurity, poverty, and disunity.”
Labour leaders in Akwa Ibom State yesterday tendered a public apology to the state Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, for the three weeks strike embarked upon by workers in the state in January over the non-implementation of the minimum wage by the state government.
The state’s chairperson of the NLC, Unyime Usoro, and the chairman of TUC, Akamba Awa, tendered the apology at the official signing of the revised or consolidated salary scale for the workers with the state government.
The signing of the agreement brought to an end the frosty relationship that existed in the past one years between the state government and workers over none implementation of the N18,000 minimum wages in full.
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, has attributed the delay in the payment of civil servants’ salaries in the last few months to the on-going staff verification exercise. Dickson stated this while addressing workers at this year’s May Day celebration at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Describing the delay as “regrettable but inevitable”, the governor said the measure was geared towards sanitising the civil service. Dickson, who thanked the workers for their support and understanding, pointed out that once the exercise was concluded, workers would no longer experience any delay and inconvenience over salary payment.
Chairman of the NLC in Borno State, Mr. Ali Abana, has appealed to the state government to as a matter of urgency, pay all the 10 months salary arrears of staff of primary schools in the state. Abana who claimed that the state government was owing arrears from 2011 to 2012, as well as the settlement of two months salary arrears of the newly recruited secondary school teachers across the state, urged the government to bring smile on the faces of the teachers by paying up.
The Organised Labour in Cross River State yesterday accused the state government of spending N5 billion annually on printing of official documents instead of using the money to revamp the state printing press and Nigerian Chronicle newspaper to serve the same purpose. The state chairman of the NLC, Mr. Njom Nyambi, made this allegation in his address on the occasion of this year’s Workers’ Day at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar.
“Government spends over N5 billion yearly on printed jobs outside government owned printing press but cannot spend less than N1billion to revamp the government press and state newspaper corporation. What an irony?
An establishment that is supposed to be in charge of all government official jobs (classified documents) is completely abandoned. We cannot understand what is wrong,” he said.
Enugu State workers Tuesday called on the state government to work out a defined salary structure for workers in the state.
This position came yesterday as the workers in the state under the umbrella of the TUC and the NLC joined their counterparts across the globe to commemorate workers day.
In an address at the colourful ceremony held at the Michael Okpara Square in Enugu, the state Chairman of TUC, Mr. Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe, said:“Given that minimum wage negotiation in Enugu state is inconclusive and owing to the controversy surrounding its implementation, the congress urges your Excellency to direct the state Joint Negotiating team to review the present salary of Enugu public servants and come up with an acceptable salary chart.”
The House of Representative yesterday assured organised labour of reforms in legislations that would make labour safer and more secure.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, who gave the pledge, said the National Assembly would continue to enact laws that would ensure security of employment, health and welfare of all workers in the country.
In a goodwill message to commemorate the day, Tambuwal said as partners in progress, the lawmakers and labour unions have shared goals and responsibilities whose ultimate aim is to see to the development of the country.
Also, Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, appealed to members of labour unions in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to commit to the swift resolution of outstanding issues in its negotiation with the Federal Government over planned reforms in the power sector.
Nnaji in his May Day message to the unions in Abuja, called for total dedication in reforming the power sector; he asked the unions to seize the opportunity of the 2012 ‘Workers Day’ to work towards the resolution of labour-related issues in the ongoing negotiations between it and the government.
Similarly, the organised labour also said it was kicking against the plan by the Federal Government to invest billions of Naira on gas to power plants, saying it was unacceptable given the quantum of resources claimed to have already been spent in the sector.
President General of TUC, Mr. Peter Esele, who made labour’s position know in his May Day message yesterday in Abuja, said: “Last Thursday, we woke up with the news that this government wants to spend some billions of Naira on gas to power the power plants. What we see here is the continuous mistake of our government to throw money at challenges instead of creatively confronting them. We need milestones here that are achievable and commitment on the part of government to see them attained,” he said.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to urgently embark on genuine activation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC) in the interest of Nigerian workers. Kogi State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. James Odaudu, who made the call during the 2012 May Day celebration, said if completed and made to work to full capacity, the company would greatly reduce the problem of unemployment in the nation.
While noting that workers seek government intervention in the completion of ASC and the National Iron Ore Mining at Itakpe, he posited that no nation could ever be industrialised without steel.
Meanwhile, the state government has been tasked to facilitate the prompt payment of pension and gratuity, domestication of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and payment of N18,000 minimum wage for workers in the state.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, yesterday called on Nigerian workers to pray for the nation in view of the unusual insecurity challenges in the country. Ahmed, who stated this in Ilorin, on his May Day message to the workers in the state, said: “Even though the current administration in the country has made appreciable progress on the economy, the nation needs our collective will and wisdom to successfully meander through the uncommon security challenges.”
Indications emerged yesterday that the organised labour may have perfected plans to mobilise Nigerians on another street protest if the Federal Government treated the report of the Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy with kid gloves. Aside from the fuel subsidy probe, the President of the NLC, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, in his goodwill message delivered by the congress head in Oyo State, Comrade Bashiru Olannrewaju, during the May Day celebration in Ibadan, reminded Nigerians of attempt by the Federal Government to muzzle labour by outlawing strikes. The May Day rally was devoid of the usual government presence as the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, stayed out of the rally and did not send any representative either.
Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, yesterday congratulated the state chapter of the NLC and the TUC, saying no government could succeed without the cooperation of its workforce. Speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, during the celebration of Workers’ Day at the M.K.O Abiola Stadium, he said: “We ensure they are paid promptly, and in full. Despite delays in the receipt of the federal allocation, we honour our commitment to Ogun workers. We equally remit all deductions like pension contributions to the appropriate institutions in accordance with the law.”
Workers in the state under the aegis of NLC and the TUC yesterday commended the state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, for his various workers friendly programmes. Specifically, the two labour congresses led by Comrade Bosede Daramola, of the NLC and Ekundayo of the TUC, lauded the governor for approving and paying N22,000 minimum wages to workers, when most states are yet to implement the minimum wage.
The two union leaders while reading their addresses, which were greeted with applauds for the governor by the workers gathered at the Gani Faewehinmi Freedom Arcade, expressed hope that workers would reciprocate the good gestures of the government by rededicating themselves for the efficient service delivery.
Aggrieved Osun State workers yesterday staged a protest against the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, for allegedly saying his administration spent over 70 per cent of the state resources on public servants’ salaries and emoluments yearly. Aregbesola’s entry to the Technical College, Osogbo venue of the rally had earlier set the place agog while he waved to workers as shouts of admiration rented the air when workers started singing different songs. Speaking at the occasion, Aregbesola said: “May Day is not just to commemorate workers’ struggle for emancipation, it is also to admonish and encourage us to take our work seriously and value our work regardless of our place in the work hierarchy.”
Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, yesterday said he had constituted a Committee on Collective Bargaining to improve relationship between government and the state workforce to serve as open and continuous channel for dialogue with Labour “without necessarily waiting for conflict to arise.” Addressing workers at the May Day rally held at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos, the governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Shedrack Best, said: “In government’s dealings with Labour, we have strive for transparency and openness while always appealing for understanding.”
Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, Tuesday said members of staff of local government councils and primary school teachers would soon benefit from the N18,000 minimum wage after the staff verification exercise. Speaking at the occasion of Workers’ Day celebration in Sokoto, Wamakko said: “In discipline, laxity and nonchalant attitude is the order of the day in the service. So, I urge workers to change their attitude because government can only produce results with a committed workforce.”
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