12 September 2011

Nigeria: Minimum Wage Divides South East Governors

South-east Governors Forum (SGF) meeting ended in a deadlock in Enugu State Sunday, as they reportedly disagreed over the issue of the implementation of the new minimum wage by states in the zone.

The disagreement was as a result of a division between some governors who are willing to meet the demands of their workers and those who are adamant that they cannot.

Sources close to the governors disclosed that only one out of the five governors was willing to meet the workers demand.

The meeting which was slated for 1pm ended about 5pm and the Chairman of the Forum and Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, refused to talk to journalists as he merely said: "I have nothing to say to you."

THISDAY gathered that the governors, who were rushing to their vehicles, were heading to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport enroute Abuja, for a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

Sources told THISDAY that the meeting was summoned in the wake of the on-going indefinite strike by civil servants in Enugu State, which was declared by the national leadership of the labour unions in Nigeria.

According to sources, the essence of the meeting was for the governors to adopt a common stand on how to counter the demands of their workers for the full implementation of the new minimum wage.

The sources said the governors were worried by the intervention of the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the minimum wage negotiation and the consequent strike.

The position of the governors, our correspondent gathered, was that none of the state should negotiate with the national labour leaders.

According to the forum, the minimum wage issue was a purely South-east affair and no governor in the zone should negotiate with any labour leader outside their states.

The governors allegedly agreed that they should not shift grounds from their various positions of how much they could afford to pay their workers.

They argued that if any of the state accept full implementation of the new wage the others would be blackmailed to do so. The sources recalled that during a strike with unions of state owned universities in the zone, labour leaders from outside the state were walked out of a meeting between the governors and staff unions, on the ground that it was an Igbo affairs.

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