By Matthew Ajai-Kume, Moses Akarhan & Sunday Iduh
Labour Unions in Benue State have applauded Governor Samuel Ortom on his approval for immediate payment of the N30, 000 new minimum wage to state civil servants.
Governor Ortom who said he will not at any time take the welfare of workers for granted, directed that the minimum wage be implemented to, first of all, cover state civil servants on grade levels one to six.
This is coming shortly after the governor had met with the labour union leaders during which he appreciated them for their understanding and reaffirmed his commitment to implementation of the salary threshold agreement.
The governor’s directive was contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase and made available to journalists recently.
Governor Ortom directed the state Head of Service to immediately commence the payment, without delay.
“Governor Samuel Ortom has directed the State Head of Service to immediately commence implementation of the interim agreement his administration reached with labour leaders on payment of N30,000 minimum wage to state civil servants on grade levels one to six”
“I assure Benue workers that the present administration will continue to give priority to their welfare while addressing other challenges of development,” it stated.
It would be recalled that, the Benue State Government and organised labour earlier this year, met and resolved that the N30,000 minimum wage be paid to civil servants on grade levels one to six while those on grade levels seven and above will take effect after the state government clean its payroll.
Reacting to the development, Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Benue State, Comrade Godwin Anya, in an exclusive interview with The Voice, commended the governor for keeping to his promise and appealed to workers in the state from Grade level seven and above to remain calm while arrangements are being made to capture them.
Anya said because the governor has honoured and respected the minimum wage agreement, the Labour Congress will not rest on its oars to ensure implementation of the new minimum wage to all categories of workers in the state.
“It is a welcome development. This is what labour has been after all the while. What is left, is for us to follow up to ensure that the authority concern carry out the governor’s directive.
“We got directive from the national Secretariat and we approached the governor on the need to commence implementation and he gave approval for the relevant authorities to commence the implementation of the minimum wage to staff on grade level 1-6 without delay.
“On the implementation of the wage for the other grade levels, we are still negotiating with the government and we are optimistic that the governor will consider our position and do the needful
“Civil servants should remain calm, Labour is not relenting, the National Secretariat is monitoring what is happening. We will pursue to ensure that workers’ packages are implemented,” Anya assured.
He further added “We are going to see the Head of Service to ensure immediate implementation.”
The state NLC Chairman further expressed hope that negation will resume for the remaining workers to benefit.
“We hope to go back to negotiation for the consequential adjustment now that we are out of recession as soon as they are through with the cleaning of the payroll,” he stated.
Comrade Anya however, appealed to the state government to hasten up so that negotiation will be concluded on the consequential adjustment so as to put the issue of minimum wage to rest as, according to him, another minimum wage will soon be due in the country.
Payment directive a step in the right direction – Benue NUJ
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Benue State has decribed the directive by the governor for implementation of the minimum wage as a step in the right direction.
Chairman of the Council, Kajo Martins said in an interview with The Voice that the wage implementation will greatly improve the welfare of workers.
“The directive by Governor Samuel Ortom to the state Head of Service to commence the implementation of minimum wage for the state civil servants with immediate effect is a step in the right direction.
“For a government that is just recovering from the economic recession to give such an order, it gives us an impression that soon after, civil servants on grade levels seven and above will also enjoy the facility.
“Let us not forget that members of NUJ will also enjoy this facility which is capable of motivating them for greater performance at their point of duty”.
“I therefore, commend Governor Ortom’s administration for putting the plight of Benue workers on his right hand,” Kajo commended.