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*Nigeria: Position of Anambra State Elders Council On Labour Crisis In The State
An emergency meeting of the expanded Anambra State Elders Council met in Awka on Monday October 3, 2011 to examine the difficult situation created by the trade union crisis in the State and by the strike action embarked upon by all civil servants since Friday September 17, 2011.
1. The Council noted that the shutting down of schools by the labor unions has forced school children into the streets while the closure of public health services has put the lives of hospital patients in peril. The Council regretted that the attempt to bring the State to a standstill was made without waiting to exhaust all avenues of negotiation, mediation and reconciliation between the State Government and workers.
2. The Council recalled that even before the strike began, the Council had summoned a roundtable meeting of the Anambra State Government, the Nigeria Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress on Friday, August 12, in the effort to head off the looming battle. The State Governor and the labor unions had presented their positions to the meeting; after which a technical committee of the two parties to the dispute was set up to examine peace options, harmonize their positions, and report back to the Elders Council. Unfortunately, the workers embarked on the strike action without respecting the agreement to report the outcome of the Technical Committee's work to the Elders Council.
3. On Monday September 19, an all inclusive Summit of Traditional Rulers, the Chairmen of Town Unions, the Churches, the leaders of Women, Youth and professional organizations was summoned in Awka to douse the fires and resolve the conflict between Government and the workers. In presenting the case of the State Government, the Governor told the meeting that the State Government had fully complied with the minimum wage law by paying N18, 500 to the lowest grade of workers. On the basis of this assurance the meeting asked the labor unions and civil servants in the State to return to work immediately while negotiations would continue on all outstanding claims and entitlements.
4.The Anambra State Elders Council noted therefore that the labor conflict in the State had nothing whatsoever to do with the minimum wage law since the State Government has fully complied with the stipulations of the law. The matters which are now in dispute are: (i) the demand for a general review of salaries across board for workers in the senior reaches of the civil service; (ii) the demand that salary increases and allowances granted by the Federal Government to its workers before the minimum wage law came into force should be implemented in the Anambra State civil service; and (iii) the larger question of using most of the resources of the State for the payment of salaries while leaving very little for capital development and public services. These are serious and weighty matters which cannot be decided in a hurry as a part of implementing the minimum wage.
5. At the end of the meeting on Monday, October 3, the Anambra Elders Council met again with union leaders and told them that patience, peace and negotiations were their best ways to victory. The State needed peace and quiet to re-position itself politically and economically. Everyone was aware of the financial austerities which workers faced and of the need to enhance the living conditions of workers. But paralyzing the State by shutting down essential institutions was not the way to reach this goal. A general review of salaries and allowances particularly for workers in the higher echelons of the civil service was not a part of the minimum wage issue. Workers must therefore return to their duties without further delay. Negotiations for general improvements in remunerations and working conditions should continue in an atmosphere of peace. The Elders Council pledged to use all its influence to improve workers' pay packets provided that they called off the strike immediately.
DR. DOZIE IKEDIFE OON
Chairman of the Elders Council
PROFESSOR BEN OBUMSELU
Photo Above: Map of Anambra State, Nigeria.
Photo Above: Minimum Wage Table
*Tags: Nigerians, Position, Anambra, State, Elders, Council, Labour, Crisis, Governor, Peter, Obi, Abuja, Africa, Masterweb
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