After months of negotiations and threat from the organized labour, the Niger state government has begun the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage to civil servants on grade levels 1-6.
It was learnt that the payment of the new wage commenced with the payment of the January salaries on Friday to workers in the public service in the state but the adjustment was only noticed in the junior staff salaries.
The payment of the minimum wage is coming barely two weeks after the organized labour issued a 21 day ultimatum to the government to pay the minimum wage or face industrial action.
It could how be recalled that the Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello had while receiving the chairmen of the 25 local government councils early in the month said the government would only pay the new minimum wage to junior workers because of the heavy wage bill the government is confronted with.
Bello claimed that 80% of the total income of the state is committed to the payment of salaries and allowances of civil servants.
State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Yakubu Garba who confirmed the payment of the minimum wage to our correspondent in Minna on Friday evening however said “everything is not alright yet”.
Garba said Organized labour in the state rejected the N150million the government asked labour to collect and use it to pay the consequential adjustments for senior workers because “it is not our responsibility to pay salaries”
He asked government to pay the consequential adjustment to avoid show down with workers.
“Our ultimatum to government still stands if the minimum wage is not paid to all category of staff we will have no alternative to call workers out on strike”
In the meantime the meetings between the government team and those of labour held on Thursday and Saturday were deadlocked.
The Saturday meeting was presided over by the State Deputy Governor Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso where the government put all its cards on the table.
In the presentation by government it was observed that workers in the Health and Medical sectors of Niger state were already earning above the minimum wage and its consequential adjustments which is even above what many states that have started paying the new minimum wage are paying.
How to resolve this logjam forced the meeting to abruptly adjourn to reconvene latest on Monday.
Yakubu Garba said the final position of labour will be made known after that meeting but their ultimatum still stands.