From Angela Nwaeze, Abakaliki
The leadership tussle rocking the Ebonyi state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), was recently brought to public domain following the disagreement between the two embattled chairmen of the Union over minimum wage negotiation with the state government.
While the factional chairman, Comrade Leonard Nkah who is mostly recognized in the state as NLC boss, claimed that his team concluded the issues and negotiation around the national minimum wage, since 2019, Ikechukwu Nwafor, who was allegedly suspended by the Nkah faction was also claiming that Ebonyi government never opened up negotiation on minimum wage with the state NLC.
Nwafor is recognized by the national leadership of NLC as the state chairman of labour,but he is not recognized in the state as NLC Chairman Ebonyi state.
The embattled chairman who insisted he was still the authentic NLC chairman in the State, in a recent interview with our correspondent, maintained that efforts to make the State Government open up a genuine negotiation with the Chapter, on the national minimum wage, proved abortive.
“I didn’t negotiate with Ebonyi State Government. They didn’t allow such negotiation. They called some people and made them to sign some documents that they have negotiated with them.
“The people negotiated with them and agreed on a table that they have been using to pay people. They went and did it as a hidden thing when I was writing the Governor to come up with negotiation team and all of a sudden they said they have paid the minimum wage.
“I can categorically say, that the minimum wage is not being implemented in this state. We have the table and we can make it available for you: what Ebonyi hasbeen paying before now, what it is paying now and what it should be paying after now. The analysis table is what I’m talking about, from level 7downwards. The table contains what we receiving before now, what we are receiving now and what we are supposed to be receiving as minimum. Then you will see the difference and make conclusions by yourself.
“The Governor appointment somebody he is parading as the NLC chairman here. But, the NLC doesn’t know that person. That person is the one the Governor said is the NLC chairman; but we don’t know him. He didn’t contest election and does not even attend congress. The Governor said he cannot work with me, because I refused to do what he asked me to do. That is the situation here. And if that person was a labour leader and a worker and he accepted to do such job against himself and against Ebonyi workers, you can see what is going on here.
“That is why the national leadership cannot come here to assist the workers, because the people you are coming to assist are the same people collaborating with the Government to undue themselves. It’s only when someone is in trouble and admits that he is in trouble, that you come to rescue. If he doesn’t tell you he’s in trouble and you come for his rescue, he may tell you he didn’t call you.
“I don’t need to advise the Government in this, because the Government is playing their game S politicians. The people I can advise are the workers who decided to commit suicide.
“Quote me anywhere and you can go and make your inquiries, the civil service in Ebonyi State is dead. I will defend it anywhere,” he stated
On his part, the factional chairman Leonard Nkah, on Tuesday, maintained that his team concluded the issues and negotiation around the national minimum wage, since2019. Adding that workers in the state, were not only happy with the minimumwage, but they were equally enjoying it.
“The issues on negotiation surrounding the national minimum wage was concluded about one year ago (in 2019).
“We are enjoying the national minimum wage in Ebonyi State, and workers are not just happy with it, they are also enjoying it.
“Quote me anywhere, that I said in Ebonyi State, the national minimum wage is what we are enjoying and we are comfortable with it. I said quote me anywhere.”