Sunday, February 2, 2020 9:28 pm
…D.G NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside urges state government to dialogue with labour for amicable resolution
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The Rivers State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is squaring up for a fight with the state government over alleged discrepancies in the minimum wage approved for payment to workers.
The NLC has threatened to call its members in the state out for industrial action over what it described as the refusal of the Governor Nyesom Wike led government to pay workers the ‘genuine’ minimum wage.
But Wike-led administration says what it was paying workers was in line with what the the federal government approved for payment as the new minimum wage, with all the necessary consequential adjustment already included.
While accusing the NLC of playing politics with the issue of the minimum wage, the state government challenged the union to carry out its threat of industrial action.
It added that members of Beatrice Itubo-led Rivers NLC should show appreciation to the State Government for the prompt payment of the minimum wage, instead of turning themselves to willing tools in the hands of politicians.
In a statement on behalf of the state government, Rivers Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said, “The leadership should come out clearly tell Rivers people that they are politicians instead of hiding under the cover of labour to propagate their political agenda.
“Rivers State Government has commenced the payment of the new minimum wage for employees of the State Public Service with the consequential salary adjustments as approved by the Federal Government, and will not be deterred by cheap blackmail.
“Governor Nyesom Wike remains committed to workers’ welfare and will not allow the activities of a few disgruntled elements to dissuade his resolve to serve the people.
However,concerned about the brewing disagreement between the Rivers State Government and the state’s chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has tasked both sides to return to the negotiating table.
However, Peterside, who is the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is admonishing Governor Wike and NLC not to heat up the state unnecessarily.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, he called on the Rivers state government to look at the complaints of NLC with an open mind and not that of an “oppressor who can do no wrong.”
“It seems the NLC does have a case and the only logical thing to do is to listen to them and not accuse them of being used by imaginary politicians. Perhaps Wike has forgotten that the same workers declared their support for him during the governorship election.
“There is no crime in calling the leadership of NLC to a meeting and resolve grey areas rather than threatening them with dire consequences. Only an emperor behaves this way and this is not the way to go.
“The combative nature of the governor on many occasions leaves much to be desired and it is in this kind situation that you expect him to be reconciliatory rather than confrontational,” he stressed.
The NIMASA boss called on the state’s NLC leadership to explore all possible avenues to amicably resolve contending issues, adding that anything less than that would further shrink the state’s economy.
“Let me call on the leadership of NLC to explore as many platforms as possible in trying to resolve grey areas. Anything short of this will have a telling effect on the state’s economy and productivity.
“Let me also appeal to the workers to remain calm and trust in the ability of the state government and NLC to iron out contending issues to the benefit of all. We must keep the economy of the state going,” he stated.