Govs, NLC on collision course over minimum wage, pensions, others

NLC D

Some state governors and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) appear to be on a fresh collision course over the N30,000 minimum wage with several states refusing to pay on account of lack of funds.

President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said on Saturday that the action of the affected governors was nothing but a crime.

Labour is also threatening to call out its members on a nationwide strike should the National Assembly go ahead with the proposed bill seeking to transfer minimum wage to the concurrent list.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the occasion of the Workers’ Day yesterday pledged an improved package for workers to cushion the economic effects of COVID-19 on their resources.

Kano recently reverted to the old minimum wage of N18,000 per month while Kogi and Kwara are yet to implement the new minimum wage.

Wabba said on Saturday at the Workers’ Day rally in Abuja that state governors who have refused to pay the new minimum wage and consequential increase in salaries were committing a crime.

He deplored the recent mass sack and casualization of more than 60 per cent of the workforce in Kaduna State by the state government.

Labour noted that the Governor El-Rufai led administration has sacked 30,000 workers since it assumed of power in 2015.

General Secretary, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Comrade Sikiru Waheed, said his union would support the decision of the Congress on the fate of workers in Kaduna.

He said the mass sack “has no doubt contributed to the case of insecurity in Kaduna State and its neighbouring states of Niger, FCT and Kogi.”

Wabba vowed that labour would resist attempt to re-classify the power to negotiate the minimum wage.

“There have been attempts by a section the ruling class to remove the national minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative list to the concurrent list,” he said.

“This is condemnable. The national minimum wage is a global standard.

“Therefore, we are reinforcing our earlier position to state that Nigerian workers will not allow a situation where the progress we have made for the past 40 years to be taken by these group of politicians.

“We are going to insist that any day that this law is considered by any of the chambers, Nigerian workers are going to withdraw their services.”

He also said Kaduna workers would withdraw their services for five days in protest of the sacking of workers by the Kaduna State Government.

If the workers are not reinstated, Mr Wabba stressed, there will be a total shutdown.

President Buhari, who was represented by Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige, said government has put in place some socio-economic policies to alleviate poverty.

Buhari said the Federal Government has expanded the Conditional Cash Transfer for the vulnerable poor from 2.6 million households to 7.6 million.

Besides, the COVID-19 Rapid Response Register has been expanded for urban poor to 4.8 million households.

The president also said his administration intends to expand the N-Power programme from the present 500,000 to 1 million persons and that the Central Bank of Nigeria has activated its programme in agriculture and manufacturing.

He urged to “let us continue to work together for the good of our country – Nigeria.”

He added: “We may have our little differences, but I believe that even irreconcilable differences can be eventually reconciled, for redemption brings reconciliation greatly needed to eschew hatred and ranchor and move our country forward in truth and honesty.

“As we build back to better the hazards caused by COVID-19 pandemic, I pray that the spirit of social dialogue will continue to exist and grow amongst the Tripartite stakeholders in the world of work and that our gains consequently will be immense,” President Buhari said.

Yahaya faults N30,000 minimum wage, call on Nigerians to be more productive
Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State described the N30,000 minimum wage for workers in the country as grossly inadequate in the face of the falling value of the naira and high cost of living.

Addressing workers and labour leaders in Gombe yesterday, Yahaya said: “I have always insisted that N30,000 is not enough salary for workers. It is not. But workers must work hard enough to justify whatever they are being paid.

“If we pay N300,000 to a family that has a household of six people or five, then they have to catch up with education because we don’t have good public schools. People tend to take their children to private schools. And because we don’t have functional hospitals, we end up going to private hospitals.

“No public system seems to be working definitely, so if we pay N300,000, because of the alteration and devaluation of naira, I don’t think it is enough to take care of a family of five. I will charge everybody to produce because as we produce, our currency will regain its strength.”

Abdulrazaq begs as workers insist on N30,000 minimum wage
Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State begged civil servants in the state for their understanding on the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage by his administration.

He also reassured Kwara workers of his administration’s commitment to improving their well-being despite the dwindling revenue amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Represented by Head of Service (HoS) Mrs. Susan Oluwole, he said: “I understand the position of Labour, particularly regarding the minimum wage.

“I assure you all that we certainly do not overlook these issues and we are considering all positive options to further make our workers happy.

“I call for your understanding and support for us to get through this hard time.”

But the labour movement urged the government to resume dialogue on the vexed issue of minimum wage yet to be implemented by the state.

Implement minimum wage for Kogi workers, Labour begs Gov Bello
Organised Labour in Kogi State appealed to Governor Yahaya Bello to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage.

The Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the appeal on Saturday in Lokoja during the commemoration of the 2021 Workers’ Day.

Kogi State NLC Chairman, Comrade Onuh Edoka, in his speech said workers in the state could no longer cope with the current economic reality.

Edoka explained that since President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the N30, 000 new minimum wage in April, 2019, some states including Kogi have failed to implement it.

Describing the development as very worrisome and a great disservice to Nigerian workers who are serving their fatherland, Edoka explained that the implementation of the new minimum wage will help ameliorate the suffering of workers given the current economic quagmire in the country.

Benue workers beg Ortom to pay 72-month pension arrears
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Benue State appealed to Governor Samuel Ortom to pay the 72 month pension arrears owed retired local government workers in the state.

Godwin Anya, the state NLC Chairman, in an address to mark the 2021 Workers Day in Makurdi, also appealed to the governor to implement the minimum wage for workers on grade level seven and above.

The NLC chairman said the state government also owes teachers 10 months’ salary arrears, nine months of local government workers, and five months’ salaries of state government workers.

“Non-payment of 2017 arrears of workers’ salaries has not only caused untold hardship but has dampened the morale of workers,” he said.

We can’t pay to leave grant, gratuities, Gov. Bagudu tells NLC
Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said his administration would not be able to pay the 2020 leave grant of workers and outstanding gratuities.

He cited “the burden of gratuities the government inherited,” as reason for the inability to pay the leave bonus.

He said: “In spite of the dwindling resources, the state government still pays salaries, runs the government and puts in some infrastructure in the state.

“The union should liaise with the Ministry of Finance for a way out.

“On the 2020 leave grants, the state cannot afford to pay. But you should meet with Secretary to the State Government and Head of Service to fine-tune on how best the workers will be assisted.”

Windfall for Ogun workers as Abiodun vows to clear outstanding deductions
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has said his administration remains fully committed to clearing outstanding deductions from workers’ salaries on a quarterly basis.

Abiodun also restated his commitment to ensure that a minimum of N500m is set aside to clear the backlog of gratuities of pensioners under the state government and local government services.

Abiodun added that his government would continue to improve on the good working relationship created between the workers and the government by continuing to pay utmost attention to the growth and development of the public servants.

NLC asks Kano, governor, to pay pension, gratuities of over N26bn
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to pay outstanding pension, gratuities and death benefits of retirees, which the union said, have accumulated to over N26 billion.

Kano State NLC Chairman, Dr. Kabiru Ado Minjibir, during the joint NLC/TUC May Day celebration the NLC state secretariat, also urged Ganduje to settle the outstanding arrears in respect of KSSSMB, Corporate security guards and SPHCMB staff at local government level employed in 2015.

Labour, however, hailed Ganduje “for the maturity exhibited in handling various challenges posed by Labour amidst insufficient funding from the federal government, as well as dwindling internally generated revenues, which may not be unconnected to socioeconomic crisis caused by COVID-19.”

While advising the state government to respond to the economic downturn by diversifying its internally generated revenue drive to boost income, Labour asked the state government to pay health workers and media personnel, who were engaged during COVID-19 pandemic management, their outstanding allowances as well as incentives.

Labour demands payment of minimum wage in Bayelsa
Workers in Bayelsa State under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) demanded the payment of gratuity to local government retirees, implementation of annual salary increment and promotion.

They also demanded the payment of both minimum wage and promotion arrears, resumption of training and retraining of civil servants.

They lauded the worker-friendly disposition of Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri.

Delivering a joint address of both unions at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, venue of this year’s Workers Day celebration, State NLC Chairman, Comrade Bipre Ndiomu, praised Diri for prompt payment of salaries and gratuity since his emergence as governor in February 2020.

He appreciated the governor for standing by workers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that at a time there was global job loss, the story in Bayelsa was different due to the pragmatic and people-oriented leadership style of the governor.

Ndiomu described as heartwarming the readiness of Diri to rise to the occasion whenever issues affecting workers were brought to him as demostrated by the committees his government had set up to handle such issues.

Oyetola to workers: Improve productivity to generate IGR as states face dwindling allocations
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State tasked workers to increase productivity and efficient service delivery to enable the state generate more revenue internally.

Oyetola, addressing workers in Osogbo, said Nigeria is “passing through the valley of economic challenges and because Osun is part of the country, our state is not spared of the challenges.“

He said that the challenges notwithstanding, “we’ve proved every inch of the way that we’re stronger than the storm.”

He appealed to the workers to “reciprocate our gestures by ensuring increased productivity and efficient service delivery, so that we can generate more IGR to make the state financially sufficient.

“It is only when our IGR increases that the government will be able to carry out its statutory function of regular payment of workers’ salaries and other emoluments in the face of dwindling monthly allocations from the federation account to states.”

No celebration in Cross River
Workers in Cross Rivers State were in no mood to celebrate yesterday following the kidnap of the NLC Chairman in the state, Comrade Ben Ukpepi on March 21, 2021.

The State chapter Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) Comrade Monday Ogbodum and the Vice Chairman of the State Council of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Lawrence Achuta, who delivered a message signed on behalf of organised labour in the state, said Ukpebi was kidnapped by “a cruel and unrepentant gang of perfidious criminals.”

They said: “It is 43 days and counting. We hear the abductors are demanding N150 million before they can free him. Where do we have such money? We are praying that wherever the evil men have taken him, he is safe.”

“We charge the government and the security agencies to do all that is necessary to ensure the safe return of our comrade, the NLC Chairman”.