MINIMUM WAGE: 'NO WORK, NO PAY' FOR STRIKING ENUGU WORKERS
In compliance with the three-day warning strike declared by the organized labour to press home the full implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wages, workers in Enugu State yesterday stayed at home paralyzing official activities in the state.
The gates to the Enugu Magistrate Court premises were under lock, just as other government ministries and parastatals within and outside the state secretariat were also closed.
However, not pleased with the decision of labour to proceed on strike in spite of efforts to reach a compromise, the state government had warned that the striking workers would forfeit their pay for as long as they remain on strike.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the executive council meeting yesterday, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chuks Ugwoke, said it was regrettable that the workers did not even deem it appropriate to give any notice to their employers before embarking on the strike as stipulated by the extant Labour Laws.
'Government has no better choice under the circumstance than to apply the rule of no work, no pay.' He stated that the strike, which began yesterday was as a result of the insistence by Labour that government must increase the salaries of all the workers according to a salary chart computed by them in addition to the implementation of the minimum wage.
'We need to emphasize that the Enugu State Government has fully complied with the implementation of the payment of the minimum wage with effect from this month. Government also gave a commitment to Labour that it would pay the arrears in October this year. In the process of the implementation, the salary of every civil servant in Enugu State was also upwardly adjusted.
'Following from these commitments which were outcomes of several negotiations with Labour, government has concluded arrangements for the prompt payment of salaries of our workers as has been the practice since the enthronement of this administration.'Today, the crux of the matter is that the state government has made it clear that its current financial resources cannot support the workers' proposed salary chart. We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a case of salary increase but a strict compliance with the law on minimum wage.
'However, to continue to better the lots of workers in our state, government had also assured Labour that salaries of workers in the state would be further reviewed upwards in the event of a corresponding adjustment in revenue allocations to states.'It is most regrettable that Labour chose to blackmail the state government by embarking on strike and creating the erroneous impression that the government is unwilling to implement the Minimum Wage Law. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Meanwhile, the state Chairman of NLC in Enugu, Chief Chukwumaife Nze, has commended workers in the state for effectively observing the warning strike. He maintained that the chart presented to government was the same being used throughout the federation, stressing that workers in the state rejected the chart prepared by government whi0ch increased salaries of workers on grade level 01-06 by N10, 000 and 06 and above by N5, 000.