By: Israel Umoh
The drama for the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage in Akwa Ibom is not yet over as Governor Udom Emmanuel is yet to give an official seal to the agreement for payment of the same to workers in the state.
Though the leadership of the organised labour and the state government officials signed the agreement for the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage on Thursday, January 23, it is not yet ‘uhuru’ for the workers to celebrate.
Speaking with Comfort FM Radio, Uyo on Friday, January 24, Elder Effiong Essien, the state Head of Civil Service affirmed that the labour and the state government on Thursday, January 23, signed the agreement but that the signed agreement would be presented to the governor to sign it.
Asked when this would be done, Essien said the governor would sign it when he returns to the state after his outside official function.
In response to a text message by Straightnews publisher, Comrade Sunny James, the Chairperson of NLC, Akwa Ibom Council, confirmed “We signed it yesterday with a relevant clause to assist workers after a presentation to His Excellency today officially. Sure to talk on its details thereafter plz.”
Comrade Iboro Ibara, the state NLC secretary wrote in his Whatsapp page “The controversy which greeted the unilateral action of the Akwa Ibom State Government’s press release over the implementation of the Minimum Wage in Akwa Ibom State may finally have been laid to rest as Government today met with organised Labour to iron out grey areas of the negotiation and sign an agreement.
“The Head of Civil Service of Akwa Ibom had on Tuesday, January 21, issued a Press Release indicating that the Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had approved the implementation of the new wage in the State, an action the Labour movement criticised as unilateral and a violation of the tenets of collective bargaining as enshrined in extant Labour laws. The NLC had specifically condemned the action of Government, describing the abandonment of the negotiations by the Government and subsequent issue of the Press Release as unethical,” he observed.
A press release from the Office of the Head of Civil Service in Uyo dated January 23, says “The signed Agreement shall be formally presented to the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, soon.”
Recall that the leadership of the Organised Labour in the State led by the Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Committee, Comrade Tina Essien and the government side led by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and the Head of the Civil Service/Chairman of the New Minimum Wage Implementation Committee in the State, Elder Effiong Essien had signed the agreement.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Ekuwem, thanked the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for his concern to the welfare of workers demonstrated in the various welfare packages and the approval for the implementation of the New Minimum Wage in line with the Federal Government approved consequential adjustment percentages increase.
Ekuwem also commended the Organized Labour for the maturity and understanding demonstrated during the period of the negotiation.
Also speaking, Essien, the Head of Civil Service, who is also the Chairman of the New Minimum Wage Implementation Committee in the State, thanked the Governor for approving the implementation of the new wage in the State.
Essien commended the Secretary to the State Government for his fatherly role while the negotiation lasted and the organised labour and Workers for their understanding and cooperation.
In their separate remarks, Comrade Sunny James, the Chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC); Comrade Dominic Abang, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC); Comrade Tina Essien, the Chairman and Comrade Akamba Awa, the secretary of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council; Comrade Anestina Iweh, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), 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 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.
They pledged their continued support and co-operation to the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration and expressed the hope that other pending issues shall be handled subsequently.
Present at the meeting were the Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning, Prof. Victor Inoka; acting Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Iboro Ibara; Sam Umiom, Secretary, Trade Union Congress; Barr. Uduak Eyo-nsa, the Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Mrs. Ekaette Ekanem, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Head of Civil Service; her counterparts in the Local Government Service Commission, Mrs. Mfonobong Okim; Ministry of Economic Development/Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong, as well as that of the Department of Establishments, Mrs. Beatrice Udoinyang.
Others were the Head of Budget, Mr. Otu Asuquo, Director of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Manpower Planning, Mr. Abasifreke Ikpe, Assistant Director, Administration & Supplies, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Mary Ekaette and Mr. Ifiok Ibanga, an Assistant Director in the State Civil Service.