Olakunle Olafioye (Lagos), Tony John (Port Harcourt), Chijioke Agwu (Abakiliki),Obinna Odogwu (Awka), Clement Adeyi (Osun), Oluseye Ojo (Ibadan), Femi Folaranmi (Yenagoa), John Adams (Minna), Abdulrazaq Mungadi (Gombe), Priscilla Ediare (Ado-Ekiti )
Ahead of the January 31 deadline set by the organized labour for states yet to commence the payment of the N30,000 national minimum wage, feelers from some of the affected states have shown that some state governments may have finally conceded to labour’s threat to pay the new minimum wage to civil servants in their states or risk industrial crisis as negotiations in a few other states are mired in intrigues.
At the end of December 2019, only five states, namely Lagos, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and Borno states, reportedly agreed or had commenced payment of the new minimum wage with 15 other states said to be on negotiation table with labour unions.
State governments from 15 other states were reported to have failed to show any commitment to keying into the new arrangement, forcing the Trade Union Congress to fix a new deadline of January 31 for the commencement of strike action in defaulting states after shelving its earlier threats to down tools early this month.
The states include Ekiti, Cross Rivers, Benue, Gombe, Osun, Sokoto, Oyo, Niger, Ogun, Enugu, Bayelsa, Rivers, Kwara, Taraba and Anambara. But findings by Sunday Sun in the last few days in most of the states showed that the majority of the state governments have finally agreed to pay the new minimum wage.
Rivers NLC optimistic of implementation
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Rivers State chapter, has disclosed that it was finalising agreement with the state government on the implementation of the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.
The state chairperson of NLC, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, told Sunday Sun in Port Harcourt, that the only grey area at the end of negotiation was the payment of arrears.
Itubo expressed optimism that the negotiation with the state government would be fruitful at the end.
She appealed to civil servants in the state to have confidence in their leaders and allow them to continue with the negotiation.
“We are at the finishing line. What is left are the arrears and we are hopeful everything will work out well,” she said.
Meanwhile, a statement signed on Thursday night, by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said that the governor had approved the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.
“His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has graciously approved the payment of the minimum wage of N30,000 monthly salary for employees of the Rivers State Public Service with the consequential salary adjustments as approved by the Federal Government,” he said.
Mixed feelings in Ebonyi State
Civil servants in Ebonyi State have expressed mixed feelings over the payment of N30,000 new minimum wage by the state government.
Governor David Umahi had last December promised to pay the new minimum wage effective from January 1, 2020 and consequently directed the state Accountant General and the 13 council chairmen in the state to seek overdrafts and ensure the payment of the new minimum wage to workers in local government areas effective from January.
Although the state has commenced the payment of the new minimum wage some civil servants, who already earn more than N30,000 in the state expressed disappointment, saying that the new adjustments in their salaries were far from their expectations.
A civil servant in the state who pleaded for anonymity told Sunday Sun that the said package was just a drop in the ocean and not a living wage.
He said, “they said it is a minimum wage, but to us, it is not. It is just a little increment.”
The state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Orji Uchenna Orji, had told newsmen in Abakiliki that the payment was in accordance with the agreement reached with the NLC.
But efforts to contact the state NLC chairman, Comrade Leonard Nkah for comment were unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.
Anambra pledges to meet new deadline
In Anambra, the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, told our reporter that the state was still negotiating with the organized labour, adding that it was ready to meet the new deadline.
He said that adequate funds have been set aside to start immediate implementation as soon as the negotiation was concluded.
Adinuba said: “We have stated officially that we are ready to start paying from January. You know we are still negotiating with the workers’ union. We just came back from Christmas and New Year holidays. So, we are still negotiating, but we are ready to start paying from January. We have provided enough funds to start payment from January.”
Commenting on the matter, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Jerry Nnubia, confirmed that negotiation was still ongoing. He said that the committee was only waiting for Governor Willie Obiano, to return from his trip so that it could wrap up the negotiation.
Government, labour still on negotiation table in Osun
In Osun State, the Commissioner for Finance, Bola Oyebamiji, said that a negotiation committee had been put in place to work out payment modalities.
He added that as soon as the committee concludes its assignment, government’s position on the new wage would be made public.
“Osun State government has not had any difficulty in paying the old minimum wage. Rather, it has been paying as and when due. Salaries are being paid promptly without any problem,” Oyebamiji said.
“The new minimum wage is a law that government must obey. However, we have a joint negotiation committee that would decide on the modalities for payment. Once the committee concludes its assignment, the government’s position on the new wage will be made public.”
A civil servant who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however, said that implementation of the new minimum wage in the state was akin to putting a cart before a horse because promotion of workers that had been stagnated for years as well as complete payment of outstanding arrears of salaries from the last administration should take precedence over the new minimum wage.
“If a worker has been on level 9 for years and has qualified for promotion, the new minimum wage will still reflect the level 9 and this will be cheating. So, it is better for the government to first of all approve promotions before we start talking about new minimum wage, which has to reflect the promotion,” he said.
All efforts to get the reaction of the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, proved abortive as he could not be reached on phone even as he failed to respond to text messages sent to his mobile line.
Consequential salary adjustments causing ripples in Oyo
Fresh facts have emerged that Oyo State government under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde does not have problem with the payment of the new national minimum wage to workers in the state that have been earning below N30,000.
But what is currently causing ripples between the labour unions in the state and the government is the consequential adjustments of salaries of those that have been earning above N30,000 before President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new national minimum wage into law last year.
Sunday Sun gathered that the minimum wage committee held its third meeting last Tuesday, but the parties were yet to reach a compromise on the consequential adjustments across board for workers in the civil and public service in the state.
Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Olusola Ogundiran, who also chairs the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNC) in the state, told Sunday Sun that “negotiation is still ongoing. We are working out the percentages for the consequential adjustments and we are sure the committee will conclude its sittings as soon as possible.
“But I must state that there is nothing we are negotiating about the national minimum wage because it has already become a law. Any state that refuses to pay the N30,000 minimum wage will have to contend with the labour movement.”
Ogundiran stated that if the National Minimum Wage Act has increased the minimum wage in Oyo State from N18,000 to N30,000, the workers on Grade Level Seven that are probably receiving N31,000, should also have their salaries adjusted consequentially, saying: “He should not still be on the N31,000 salary any longer.”
Efforts to get comments from Adeosun, chairman of the committee, and Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinola Ojo, as well as the Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Bayo Titilola-Sodo, did not yield positive results as they could not be reached as at the time of filing this report.
Bayelsa government, labour union reach agreement
Bayelsa State government and the labour union in the state have reached an agreement on the payment of the new minimum wage.
Consequently, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has ordered the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage to workers in the state with effect from this month.
Dickson who disclosed this during a meeting with the leadership of organised labour in Government House, Yenagoa, directed the state’s financial team to follow through the template set by the National Wages and Income Commission in implementing the new salary level.
“I made you people a commitment that we are not (in principle) opposed to the payment of the N30,000 new national minimum wage. Today, I have made good that promise. Under normal circumstances, there is nothing we pay our hard working employees that should be considered too much. I cannot thank you enough for the support, cooperation, understanding and patriotism you displayed to my administration in the past eight years, particularly during the period of the economic recession. My expectation is that the organized labour will extend this understanding and cooperation to the incoming government.”
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade John Ndiomu and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Mr Layi Julius, commended Dickson for the decision of the government to pay the new minimum wage.
The Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Hon. Collins Cocodia in his comments described the approval as a good development that would enhance workers’ performance and general wellbeing.
Niger set to pay minimum wage, may defer action on consequential adjustments
If the recent pronouncements at different fora by the Niger State government are anything to go by, civil servants in the state may have cause to look forward to start getting the new minimum wage beginning from this month.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Zakari Abubakar in Minna recently, said that the state government had made provision for the payment of N30,000 minimum wage to civil servants in the state in the 2020 budget.
He said that the implementation of the minimum wage would commence once the fiscal estimate was passed by the House of Assembly and assented to by the governor.
He, however, declined to be categorical when the minimum wage payment will commence, but said, “this is 2020 budget everything in the budget will be implemented in 2020.
“We are already paying N22,500, what we need now is N7,500, we have taken care of that in the budget”.
The state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello told the 25 local government chairmen and other party stakeholders who paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House in Minna last Monday following his victory at the Supreme Court, that the state government would commence the payment of the new national minimum wage this January.
Governor Bello said that a committee has been set up and that considerable progress has been made in the ongoing negotiation to begin the implementation of the new minimum wage.
According to him, those that are not directly affected by the N30, 000 minimum wage would be taken care of in the next phase which is the consequential adjustment.
Organized labour in the state had threatened the state government with an industrial action over the delay in the implementation of the minimum wage.
Rising from it emergency State Executive Council (SEC) meeting in Minna penultimate Friday, the labour union had handed a 21-day ultimatum to the state government to pay the 30,000 new minimum wage or face an indefinite strike.
Minimum wage implementation done deal in Gombe – Finance Commissioner
Gombe State Commissioner for Finance, Muhammad Gambo Magaji, has revealed that the implementation of the new national minimum wage was a done deal in the state.
He disclosed this during a press briefing on the state’s 2020 budget breakdown on Monday, January 6, 2020, where he assured that all is set for the state to implement the salary increment for workers.
He said: “It is a responsibility of the government to pay salaries and ensure workers’ welfare. We will not run away from that responsibility”.
The state governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, was quoted in a statement issued by his senior media aide, Ismaila Uba Misilli on December 28, 2019, reiterating that his administration would continue to deepen the existing industrial harmony and cordial relationship with workers in the state in order to improve productivity and ensure good governance.
Lamentation, confusion over new minimum wage in Ekiti
Workers in Ekiti State have accused the state government of reneging on its promise to pay the new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government.
Those who spoke to Sunday Sun lamented that the state government, having unnecessarily raised their hope, has failed to commence the payment of the new minimum wage in the state.
A staff of Ikere College of Education, Ikere-EKiti, who does not want his name in prints, said: “It is a political strategy of the government that is why they haven’t kept their promises. Even though the percentage increase in salaries is close to meaningless. I hope Governor Fayemi will respond well and make good his promise of last year that he will pay.”
Another civil servant in the Ministry of Lands and Housing said: “ I feel sad with the development. This delay is becoming unbearable. We are in the dark as to the position of things. Although, government has promised to pay us, we cannot tell when they will start. Some states have started paying so Ekiti should join them too.”
But the state government on the other hand said that some levels of workers in the state have started receiving the new minimum wage and promised to effect consequential adjustments on the salaries of workers in other levels.
The government revealed that a committee had been put in place to take care of other civil servants. The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the governor on labour matters, Comrade Oluyemi Esan, said: “It is no ruse. It is no overstatement. The government of Ekiti State has never denied the fact that it is going to pay the minimum wage. The governor has spoken on many occasions that he would pay and that he cannot be indifferent from all other states.
“The process has already started. Dr Kayode Fayemi, even before any state ever pronounced the issue of payment of minimum wage, had already commenced it, he had approved the new minimum wage for level one to six, which commenced last year November. So, the idea of whether he is not going to pay, if he has commenced the payment and had made the pronouncement in the midst of thousands of heads, I don’t think he can go back to say he cannot pay the minimum wage, the government is yearning to pay the minimum wage.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ekiti State council, had on January 7, in a release made available to newsmen, called on the state government to fast track the issue of minimum wage so that the necessary documents could be signed for the commencement of payment of the minimum wage and its consequential adjustment in order forestall industrial action in the state.