Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade, Friday, inaugurated the state public service negotiating team for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
The inauguration, which took place at the Conference Room of the deputy governor, Governor’s Office, Calabar, was performed by the deputy governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who represented the governor.
Ayade expressed the willingness of his administration to pay the new minimum wage of N30,000.
“We are only here to negotiate the consequential adjustments that will affect salaries from Grade levels 7 to 17. In doing that, we carefully selected this team of technocrats and strong labour people not just from the state civil service but from the local government for the negotiations,” Ayade remarked.
The governor urged the team to bear in mind the state’s financial reality.
“In carrying out this negotiations, you must ensure that you think about the purse of the state as in the entire South South zone, Cross River is the only state that does not get a penny as extra revenue coming from oil.”
He advised the team “not to go ahead and negotiate what will cause us to start owing salaries, or make workers clap for you that you worked so hard and at the end of the day, we are not able to pay or we begin to wait for two or three months in order to put money together to pay one month.”
Ayade, who reminded the team of his labour friendly disposition, noted that as a governor who has never derailed from paying salaries as at when due, he decided to include “the commissioner for finance, state Accountant General and the Auditor General into the team to show you our books so that you see exactly what we have and so that you don’t negotiate from the air.”
The team’s terms of reference include determining the effective date for the implementation of the new minimum wage, determining and recommending any other issue incidental to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.
The committee is to present its report on or before January 31, 2020.
Speaking on behalf of the team, the chairman of the negotiation team, Dr Chris Ekeng Ita said, “the first job has been made easy by the caliber of people that are meant to negotiate because they are knowledgeable.
“On the union side, they have the capacity and on the government side, we have the capacity to negotiate and amicably come to a conclusion.”
Ita, who is also the state’s Head of Service, said there has never been a time that Governor Ayade said he will not be able to pay the new minimum wage.
He said this disposition of the governor gives hope that the assignment given to them will be finished in a very short while.
“I don’t think we will take time to come to a conclusion because the main issues of minimum wage has been tackled from levels one to six, the minor issue which we are coming to negotiate should not tear us apart. We will go into it very fast and arrive at a conclusion.”
Representing labour in the team are Comrades Julius Nkoyi, John Odey, Francis Bisong, Joe Idiege and Ben Ukpebi. Others are Clarkson Otu, Godwin Ayendi and Eyo Nsa Eyo Itam.
Those representing government are Dr Chris Ekeng Ita, Commissioner for Finance, Special Adviser, Special Adviser, the State Accountant General Joseph Adie and the Auditor General
Others are permanent Secretaries, Innocent Eteng, Emmanuel Eke and Helen Brown Ubom.
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