MINIMUM WAGE: ANAMBRA WORKERS BEGIN WARNING STRIKE
Government workers in Anambra State yesterday booed the State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi and began a one-week warning strike to press home their demand for immediate implementation of the new minimum wage.
The Governor had appeared at the workers rally held at the Aroma Junction, entrance to the Anambra State House of Assembly and the State Judiciary.
He was at the venue in company with members of the Anambra State Executive Council, members of the State House of Assembly and many of the traditional rulers to the chagrin of the workers who did not expect such high profile visitors.
The stage was set for the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Patrick Obiekwe to address the rally, when the Governor arrived and asked for an opportunity to address the workers, who were already tensed up over his perceived foot- dragging in implementing the new minimum wage.
There was spontaneous shout of no, no.
The confusion lasted for more than 20 minutes and took serious pleading from the NLC Chairman to calm down the workers and allow the Governor to speak.
Even as he spoke, his speech was virtually unheard as many of the workers were still objecting to the Governor telling them any thing.
He said that since the minimum wage was passed as law, that he would obey the letters of the law, including paying the arrears as stipulated by the law and all the agreements reached on the matter. He described their decision to go on strike as political and advised them against being used by failed politicians.
He said, 'What you are doing is normal, all we are looking for is how to make peace and you equally know that as the Governor of this state, I'm the leader of workers.
'Anambra State will pay N18, 000 across the board and it is law, we are committed to paying the money as required by law and I will be the last person to disobey the federal government law.'
Noting that since there was an agreement between the federal government, state Governors and labour leaders, Obi assured that his administration would honour it to the later.
In an interview soon after the rally, the State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Patrick Obiekwe said that, the one week warning strike was in line with the resolution of the workers at the rally. The NLC boss said he had no knowledge of the intention of the State Governor to be at the rally, adding that, the Governor must have been wrongly advised to do so.
'We did not invite the Governor, and it was wrong for him to come to such gathering' he declared.
The NLC boss said there was nothing wrong with the spontaneous beginning of the one week strike, especially as negotiated for the new minimum wage ended on July 31, 2011.
He recalled that, at their last meeting with the state government over the new minimum wage, government said it had reached the end of the road.
In his own comment, the state chairman of Joint Negotiating Council, Basil Okoye said that, workers reacted because they had no confidence in what the Governor would say.
He noted with dismay that, the Governor had come up with a salary table that had no reflection of the new minimum wage.
'Any acceptable agreement must be a product resolution between Government and Labour,' he declared.