Labour Activist arrested, As Gov. Chime insists on No September Salary for Enugu Workers
The last may not have been heard about the minimum wage controversy in Enugu state as some members of the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress(NLC),on Tuesday, got the rough side of Gov. Sullivan Chime, who is increasing making waves with his anti labour posture.
A section of the workers led by Comrade Osmond Ugwu had organized prayer sessions at the NLC Secretariat, Enugu, to seek the face of God for the protracted negotiations over the implementation of the new minimum wage by the Enugu state government.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that the prayer sessions has been going on daily with the corresponding increase in the population of workers, said to have drawn the attention of the government..
On Tuesday, Gov.Chime was alleged to have sent security men to arrest Ugwu who has become a thorn in the flesh of the Chime led government, and others who are behind the prayer sessions.
A source who spoke to pointblanknews.com hinted that the Chime has been unsettled by the popularity of the sessions organized by Ugwu, who is highly regarded by the Enugu workers as fearless and incorruptible.
Said the source, ”Ugwu is no nonsense labour activist, remember that during the last warning strike. Workers accused the state NLC chairman and his executivse of selling out, they insisted that they prefer Ugwu to represent them in the negotiations with the government, but the government team refused . Since then, Ugwu has become a marked man.”
Gov. Chime had last week, during a chat with news men in Enugu, insisted that he no salaries will be paid to workers in the state for the month of September, as they(workers) embarked on a strike action, which he (Chime), described as uncalled for.
The governor maintained that he will enforce the 'no work, no pay rule policy', as they(workers) did not work for the month of September, and therefore deserves no salary.
The situation has brought Chime in conflict with the workers. Some well meaning individuals from the state have also appealed to the governor to pay the workers, but to no avail as the Enugu state chief Executive has vowed not to release the September salaries to the workers who participated in the strike.
It would be recalled that Chime have had series of running battles with his workers over the non implementation of the minimum wage law as passed.
Pointblanknews.com also learnt that Chime has insisted on a partial implementation of the minimum wage Act in his state by adding N10,000 to the salaries of grade levels 1 to 7 and N5,000, to 8 to 17, claiming that Enugu cannot pay more.
On Thursday September 8, 2011, social and economic activities were grounded for hours in Enugu metropolis as national official of Trade Union Congress(TUC) and NLC , who stormed Enugu to protest the non implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage, were held hostage at their Gold Value hotel by a team of soldiers and thugs, allegedly on the orders of Chime.
The attacks on the labour leaders attracted condemnation by many individuals and groups including the Civil Liberties Organization(CLO), who described it as “a return to the dark days of military dictatorship”, and called on Chime to engage in negotiations with workers.
In the present situation which culminated in the arrest of Ugwu, the government has continued to deny that it knows nothing about the arrests made, as claimed by its spokesman, Mr. Chuks Ugwuoke while addressing news men. The Enugu state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amarizu, could not pick calls or reply a text message sent to him on the issue. As at press time , Ugwu and his colleagues were yet to be freed by the police.