Just as there are signals that the Akwa Ibom State government is ready to pay the proposed minimum wage of N30,000 to workers in the state, the workers are asking the governor, Udom Emmanuel to first pay their outstanding three years promotion arrears before they can trust his willingness to pay the new minimum wage.
The governor had on Monday, during consultation with the organized labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and the United Labour Congress, ULC, on his second term ambition, at the Workers Solidarity Centre, pledged to pay workers the new minimum wage once it is approved.
Udom had said that “minimum wage has never been an issue here. It is only that it has to be under what is called legislation and when something is a legislation, it is not only a state; it's a whole country. So, we are waiting for the direction of the country, once they give us a direction, then we'll know what to do.”
But in a swift reaction to the promise, some workers in the employ of the government said in an interview that they were disappointed at the government what they called the hypocrisy of the system.
The workers who spoke on conditions of anonymity because of the fear of intimidation said Udom must live to expectations and pay their promotion arrears without further delay.
“A senior worker who was due for promotion on April 30, 2018 got his promotion letter dated May 1, 2018. And the arrears for three years are forfeited by the government on an inexplainable reason,” a staff in the ministry of agriculture said.
His colleague in the ministry of health lamented the forfeiture of her promotion arrears for three years, doubting if the same government would be willing to pay the new minimum wage to workers without a strike.
The matter even became a subject of discussion on one of the private radio stations in the state. A caller to the programme appealed to the governor to pay the workers their three years' promotion arrears before he envisages paying the new minimum wage to workers.
On Tuesday, some callers on Planet 101.1 FM were pouring encomiums on the governor on his readiness to pay workers the new minimum wage. Some were naive in not knowing the procedures involved in the implementation of the wage.