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Labour gives Rivers government seven days ultimatum over new minimum wage

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Wokers have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Rivers State government to resolve the issues concerning implementation of the new national minimum wage or risk industrial action.

A source in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) told The Guardian that the seven-day ultimatum took effect from Monday, March 16, 2020.She explained that the decision, which might culminate in the strike beginning from Monday, March 23, 2020, was reached after an extensive deliberation of the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Councils of Rivers State in Port Harcourt.

A joint statement endorsed by the state Secretary of NLC, Matthew Olabe, his TUC counterpart, Prince Ndukwe, and Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Opuwari Ogbada, affirmed the decision to proceed on strike should the state government fail to do the needful.

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The unions lamented and expressed disapproval on the non-seriousness of the Rivers State government to resolve issues concerning implementation of the new national minimum wage.

Labour said it was regrettable that in spite of the opportunities for a negotiated resolution of the issues by its state leadership and even through the intervention of the national leadership, the authorities have remained adamant.

The unions listed some of the contending issues between them and the state government to include, reconvening the negotiating team on implementation of the new minimum wage; non-implementation of promotion and annual incremental benefits since 2015, as well as payment of outstanding salary arrears to some workers for February and March 2016 and October 2017.

Others are, non-payment of pension and gratuity to retirees, disappearance of the N100 million workers revolving housing/car loan scheme and immediate removal of the retired head of service and other retired heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Labour declared that if the state government failed to show serious commitment to amicable resolution of the issues, at the expiration of the seven-day notice, it would embark on an indefinite strike action without further notice from midnight of Monday, March 23, 2020.

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The relationship between the state government and labour has been frosty over the implementation of the new national minimum, which Governor Nyesom Wike had approved its implementation.

The Guardian recalled that the NLC had accused the State Bureau for Special Projects of sealing up its secretariat in February as a result of issues relating to minimum wage.

But, Special Adviser, Special Projects and Head Bureau for Special Projects, Dax George-Kelly, said this as untrue.He said the contractor of NLC secretariat which was being built by the state government, had reported a structural defect to the Bureau, which must be immediately corrected to avoid further deterioration and risk of incidents.

He noted that the Bureau had to act swiftly by sealing-off the NLC office and gave the contractor the go-ahead to conduct a thorough structural integrity evaluation in liaison with its internal consultants.

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