Governor Ben Ayade has inaugurated the state public service negotiating team for the implementation of the new minimum wage on Friday. The inauguration was held at the conference room of the deputy governor, at the governor’s office, Calabar.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, the governor 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,” he said.
He also urged the team that “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 further advised that the team should be meticulous in their negotiation so as not to cause the state to owe salaries or unable to pay.
The governor noted that he has never derailed from paying salaries as at when due, hence, influencing his decision to include the commissioner for finance, state Accountant General, and the Auditor General into the team to show the records so that they see exactly what the government has 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.
The chairman of the negotiation team, Dr Chris Ekeng Ita, in his remark, said there had never been a time that Governor Ayade said he will not pay the new minimum wage.
According to him, “The first job has been made easy by the caliber of people that are meant to negotiate because they are knowledgeable."
He noted that the committee has the capacity to negotiate and amicably come to a conclusion in a 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,” Dr Chris noted.
The negotiation committee comprises of those representing the government and the labour.
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.