Workers Day: Ondo, Plateau, Kwara Workers Divided Over Minimum Wage

From Joseph Amedu in Lokoja, Yakubu Busari in Jos and Ayo Kehinde 

Governor Lalong and his Kogi counterpart, Bello

Workers in some states who took part in the usual march past had other designs apart from the Day dedicated to the remembrance of their general welfare and working conditions. The current move by their leaders to get government to raise the minimum wage from N18,000 to N56,000 became the major point of departure for many of them.

While Kwara workers said they wanted N95,000, Plateau said they wanted N66,500   

In Kogi, Governor Yahaya Bello while speaking at the occasion on Tuesday, commended the patriotic display of hard work and commitment to duty by  the state civil servants with a promise that government will implement the N56,000 new minimum wage approved by the federal government.

His Ondo counterpart, Governor Ogurotimi Akeredolu, provoked the anger of the workers when he said “the state has no money to pay the new minimum wage of N56,500 being proposed by government. The workers shouted him down and demanded that he respect the proposal of face their wrath.

In Warri in Delta State, workers demanded N96,000 as minimum wage.

Plateau workers conducted them in a rowdy manner initially as they protested against the state Chairman, Comrade Fibrin Kamga Banir whom some accused of fraternising with the government to the detriment of their interest.

It was a mile drama  as the anti and the pro group clashed and disrupted activities at the Rwang Pam Stadium  on Tuesday May Day celebration  .

The angry  workers demonstrated their annoyance  by booing the Union  leader and  Governor  Simon Bako Lalong’s representative, Comrade Izam Azi, the Head of Service.

Comrade  Bancir was about  to make his speech  when the workers  started  shouting  ba mu Yi ka, (meaning  stop we don’t  like  you) but  some of  his supporters  stood in firmly and in a short while exchange of blows started between  the two group until the police intervened to restore nomalcy.

Undeterred, the workers  indicated  the  grievance by brandishing their  Permanent Voters Card   (PVC), threatening to use them in the 2019 general  elections against those playing with their well-being .

However, when normalcy returned, Governor Simon Lalong in his address promised  implementation  of minimum  wage  to local Government  and  primary  school  teachers  and  mass enrolment  of retirees into  pension and  payment  of gratuity  to retirees. 

He said  payment  of outstanding  2012 Batch C leave  transport  grant and  that  of no -work  -no pay suffered  during  the administration of Sen. Jonah David Jang and  welfare  package  for workers.

Comrade  Jibrin  Bancir called on government without delay to pay the balance of the no- work, no -pay it’s owning workers in the local government, primary school teachers and tertiary institutions .

Governor Bello promised that special step would be taken by government to address the problem of irregular payment of workers salaries as well as settlement of  their backlog arrears owed them ranging from  five to twenty four months.

The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba advocated for adopting the option of embracing dialogue in the resolution of conflict between government and labour describing the understanding of workers over non- payment of their salaries and other entitlements as worthy of appreciation.

The state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Onuh Edoka had earlier in his speech urged the state government to urgently address the problems of nonpayment of workers salaries, unemployment, insecurity and general under development in all sectors of the state economy that had bedevilled the state since the present administration came on board.