Labour leaders in Eleme Local Government Area have expressed the hope that Rivers State Government under Governor Nyesom Wike would implement payment of the 30,000 new Minimum Wage to workers in the state.
The Labour leaders who spoke to Inside Eleme on the occasion of this year’s Workers’ Day celebration include Comrade Friday N. Gberebe, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Eleme Chapter, Comrade Gideon Osarondor, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and Comrade Gospel Mimi, Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
In his speech, Comrade Gberebe who said workers deserve a better take home package as salary expressed happiness that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has already declared willingness to implement the new Minimum Wage of N30, 000.
Hear him: “Our man has already appended his signature, now there is a law and am so happy for that. The master of all the governors has even promised that he would be among the first to pay the N30,000. We are very happy and we beg of him to put it into actuality because we are even expecting it this month of April to be paid to us and we know he is going to do it”.
Comrade Gberebe who doubles as the Chairman, Nigeria Civil Service Union in Eleme however appealed to the government to settle the unpaid arrears of pensioners and their gratuity, saying that it is unacceptable and unfair that civil servants who retired as Senior Citizens of the state after putting in 35years of meritorious service would be denied their pensions and gratuity and left to suffer. He therefore called on the government to live up its responsibility by settling all outstanding payment of pensions.
Gberebe who identified some of the challenges of the Nigerian workers as lack of electricity and basic amenities, insecurity and lack of employment for the newly trained graduates however advised Eleme people not to rely only on white collar jobs.
“My advice to the people of Eleme is that everyone should know that white cola jobs is not what all should look up to. Just like the market women, they are all workers, the hair dresser, kerosene seller, so everyone should find something to do and engage oneself because there’s a saying that an idol brain is the devil’s workshop”.
On his part, Comrade Gospel Mimi, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), at the Eleme Local Government Council called on the state government to key into the proposed minimum wage of N30,000 saying Rivers workers will be pleased to see that the state is the first to pay in the country. Hear him: “We will be very happy if our state is the first amongst the 36 states to implement the new minimum wage, we will be so grateful and then the workers will owe him an appreciation”.
Comrade Mimi however called on workers in Eleme and across the country to rise up to their duty and put in their best, stressing that the new minimum wage is not for those who sit at home but for workers who attend to their duties.
“Eleme people should be diligent on duty. Not only Eleme, I mean the whole workers in Nigeria, they should come to work and should be practical. They should think outside the box knowing quite well that they have to take their duty seriously and then the minimum wage that has come up is not just for fancy, it is not for people that are sitting at home. It is for workers, so everyone has to work to earn his or her minimum wage”.
He said that lack of promotion as at when due and poor infrastructure at work place and unhealthy work environment are top in the challenges faced by workers in Eleme Local Government Area.
For Comrade Gideon Osarondor, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Eleme Branch, he said workers have to justify the payment of the new minimum wage by putting in their best and render quality services to the state and society.
His words: “I have no option than to encourage the teachers to put in more effort in their work to justify the minimum wage. And they should put in more in terms of productivity so that the government can fulfill their part in the payment of the minimum wage while the teachers are expected to reciprocate by putting in more effort for ultimate productivity”.
Osarondor who is also the Secretary, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Eleme Chapter said lack of classroom desk and facilities to promote teaching and learning in schools are amongst impediments facing the development of education in the area.
According to him, lack of electricity to power computer based activity in class, and lack of transportation for teachers are some of the challenges teachers in the area face. He called for scholarship and other forms of literally competitions amongst students, sponsored by the government and private organizations to make the society a better place for all.