Minimum wage: Labour lists offending states, plans street protests, talks

  •  Ekiti, Kogi, Imo, Zamfara, four others yet to begin wage implementation

  •  Petrol/electricity tariff hikes: Talks resume Friday, palliatives plan on agenda

Adelani Adepegba, Bola Bamigbola, Tukur Muntari, Tunde Oyekola,  Adeniyi Olugbemi, Abiodun Nejo,  Raphael Ede, Bakam Armstrong, Chima Azubuike, Wale Oyewale, Edward Nnachi, Gbenga Odogun,  Maiharaji Altine and Tukur Muntari

Negotiations on the N30,000 minimum wage, which were suspended in some states in the wake of COVID-19  outbreak in March,  would resume this week.

The PUNCH gathered on Monday that workers in no fewer than eight states had yet to be paid the minimum wage nine months after the deadline the Nigeria Labour Congress gave state governments.

Labour leaders told The PUNCH that  Osun, Kwara, Ekiti, Imo, Gombe, Kogi, Zamfara and Ebonyi state governments had not started the minimum wage implementation.

Findings indicated in states, where minimum wage negotiations had been concluded,  workers were demanding fresh talks in view of the hikes in the fuel price and electricity tariff.

The Trade Union Congress said together with the  NLC it would stage street protests in states where the implementation of the minimum wage had not started.

It said such protests were held in Rivers and Ogun states, a few days ago, adding that workers would storm Imo State soon for the minimum wage protests.

Although the new minimum wage bill was signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.),   into law on April 18, 2019,  both labour and the Federal Government did not agree on the consequential adjustment of workers’ salaries until October 17, 2019.

In October, the Federal Government and the NLC agreed on 23.2 percentage increase for workers at grade level 07; 20 per cent for those at grade level 08; 19 per cent for workers at grade level 09; 16 per cent for those on levels 10 to 14; and 14 per cent for workers at grade levels 15 to 17.

In a communiqué issued after its meeting on December 11, 2019, the NLC gave state governments a  December 31 deadline to conclude negotiations on the minimum wage.

It was learnt that the fuel price hike had brought to the fore the issue of the minimum wage in states, where it had not been implemented.

In Osun State, the Chairman of the NLC, Jacob Adekomi, told one of our correspondents that labour leaders and the state government would resume minimum wage negotiations on Thursday.

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According to him, the state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, during a meeting on Sunday told the labour leaders to work out the financial implications of their demands and submit them to the state government.

Adekomi explained that in  December,   a committee consisting of government and Labour representatives was set up.

He stated, “Recently, we met with the commissioner for finance and Mr Governor on the need to go back to the negotiation table and finalise the agreement we reached before. But with what is on the ground now, we have to start all over again because of the hikes in electricity tariff and petroleum price.

In  Kogi State, the NLC   Chairman, Onu Edoka in a chat with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said negotiations would resume on this week.

Edoka said activities of a 17-man negotiating committee set up by the state government were stalled because of COVID-19 pandemic in March.

On its part, the Chief of Staff to the state governor, Asuku Jamiu, in an interview with The PUNCH,  said labour leaders were part of the negotiations.

Kwara workers write  gov, demand minimum wage

The Chairman of the Kwara  State Joint Negotiating Council,  Saliu Sulaiman,  told The PUNCH that workers in the state had written the state Governor,, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, asking him to sign the minimum wage bill and begin its implementation.

He said although labour leaders and the state government had agreed on modalities for implementing the new minimum, he said the payment was suspended as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Sulaiman stated, “Apart from COVID-19,  hikes  in electricity tariff and fuel pump price have also made the current salary earned by workers in the state to be meaningless.”

“We met last week and one of the issues we discussed was the minimum wage which the government has yet to implement. We have written a letter to the governor to sign the collective agreement.”

In  Sokoto State, the NLC Chairman,   Ahmed Umar,  in an interview with one of our correspondents in Sokoto said the state government began the payment of the new minimum wage in January.

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He, however,  said the payment had not started in local government areas because of the bloated  “staff strength”  in the LGAs.

Ekiti workers to write state govt

Also,  the NLC in Ekiti State said the state government had not concluded talks with workers on the minimum wage.

The NLC Secretary in the state, Taiwo Akinyemi, in an interview with The PUNCH,  said negotiations would soon resume in the state.

Akinyemi said since COVID-19 infection, which was the reason the negotiation was suspended was already thinning out, the NLC would write the government on the need to conclude the negotiation.

The Enugu  State Chairman of the NLC,  Virginus Nwobodo, on his part, said the minimum wage implementation in the state had started.

He, however, said inflation had made a mess of it. “Enugu State Government has started minimum wage implementation.” He, however, noted that the  minimum wage had been greatly affected by  inflation

But in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the Bauchi State Chairman of the NLC,  Danjuma Saleh, said negotiations with the state government had not been concluded before the COVID-19 lockdown.

He stated, “We reached an agreement six to seven months ago and workers from level six down have been getting the minimum wage. It is only salaries of senior staff from level seven upwards that we have not agreed on. We will soon resume the negotiations.”

The  Gombe State Chairman of the NLC, Mohammed Adamu,  said,  “We have resumed talks but we have yet to conclude them. We have not reached the stage to plot a strike as we hope to conclude the discussion on resumption of payment before the end of this  month.”

Recall that Gombe is one of the few states that adopted the 30,000 minimum wage, but suspended its implementation due to the impact of COVID-19.

In Oyo State, the acting s Chairman of the NLC, Mr Kayode Martins, told The PUNCH that the majority of the workers were being paid the new minimum wage.

He, however, said some departments, higher institutions and agencies were still taking the old salaries.


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