Wike, Labour Tango over Minimum Wage
Governor of Rivers State, Barr Nyesom Wike has told Labour stop chasing shadows and start chasing substance by agitating against issues like insecurity, fuel price increase and hike in electricity tariff instead of just on minimum wage wondering why Labour was dead under the Buhari administration but was very much alive under that of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Governor Wike stated this yesterday during the commissioning ceremony of an office complex built by his government for the Trade Union Congress in Port Harcourt.
Lamenting the docility of Labour on critical national issues, Wike told Labour leaders present that, “When someone closed down the courts for almost two years, the judiciary was locked down so bad that lawyers turned to drivers overnight just to earn a living, Labour didn’t say anything about it.
“Unfortunately, Labour have abandoned their roles in this country and are just chasing things personal to you. All over the world, it is Labour that comes out whenever government is not going the right way. But since the inception of this governmemt, Labour just died even though under Jonathan, Labour was alive, the country must come down because he is from the minority area”.
Continuing, Wike asked, “Where is Labour now that we have issues of insecurity, fuel price increase, hike in electricity tariff? Where is Labour? What we only hear from Labour these days is ‘minimum wage’, leaving substance to chase shadows.
Labour is like an opposition party. You should be firm and take decisions that will make Nigerians have confidence in you”, he admonished.
Referring to the three-storey TUC building has a 500 seater capacity auditorium, conference room and fully furnished offices, the Governor said, “What we have done here is our own little contribution to make you people to be independent and work for the interest of the country not for the interest of only minimum wage.
“No Governor is anti workers. But let us face reality, if we are operating true federalism, you cannot say the man who is in Sokoto should earn the same thing with the man who is in Lagos. It’s not possible. The house rent in Lagos is more expensive than the house rent in Sokoto. You cannot say that the man in Kogi should earn the same wage as the man in Rivers.
“You people say federal government should fix (minimum wage). No! How can federal government fix salary for me? He did not employ you, I employed you, I sit down with you, we negotiate. But you say federal government should fix what everybody should earn.
“I agree that there should be a minimum to wages but that does not men that people in Kogi should say because Lagos is paying N30,000 Kogi too should pay N30,000. You are not being fair to the system. Where will Kogi get the money from? Where will Benue get the money from? Even the taxes that are supposed to be paid to us the companies have taken them to Lagos. Oil companies who are supposed to pay taxes to us here are in Lagos, then they will only come here with helicopters, take our oil, finish (it) and then go back to Lagos and we’ll be here suffering environmental pollution.
“So there are so much things that you people should talk about that will even help to improve the welfare of the workers”, he concluded.
However, responding during his remarks, the TUC President, Comrade Lanre Olaleye commended the Governor for the complex built for the TUC but disagreed with him over his remarks on the minimum wage saying if governors were allowed to fix the baseline salaries some of them would not pay more than N10.
Olaleye said “Some governors have decided to cut workers’ salaries without due process, and some if allowed to determine salaries they will pay nothing less than N10 as monthly payments. That’s why Labour says it must remain where it is as a standard. (Even) US has a national minimum wage”, he concluded.
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