Following the claim by the Nigeria Governors Forum that the only way they can pay the minimum wage of N30, 000 to workers is after downsizing, labours leaders across the country have said that there is no going back on their demand. The labour leaders said that would ground the country if the governors carry out their threat to sack workers as our Correspondents found out in this report.
Imo State We will shut down the government that refuses to pay N30, 000 – TUC
The leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Imo state has declared that any government or administration that refuses to pay the agreed N30, 000 minimum wage will be inviting trouble from Organised Labour. The Imo State Chairman of the TUC, Paul Akalazu, said that beyond mobilising the Nigerian workers to vote out such leaders, any nonconforming administration that survives election would be shut down by Nigerian workers through a mass action to press home the N30, 000 minimum wage demand. He said: “The position of the Organized Labour on this issue is the same at all times and will continue to be. Negotiations have ended, we are not going into any further negotiation with any group or individual over N30, 000 minimum wage. The tripartite committee has agreed on the payment of N30, 000 minimum wage and any state government that refuses to pay it, we shall mobilise our workers and vote them out in 2019. And any that survives the election; we shall shut down with protests. “They cannot continue to subjugate the Nigerian workers that generate the revenue while they sit back and live beyond their means. We know how much that accrues to every state in this country on the average and we know the little percentage of those accruals they deploy to the development of the state, paying of salaries and pensions. We insist that Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people must begin to matter. Nigerian workers must be given priority consideration in the policy formulations of this country.”
Ekiti State ‘Let them set their priorities right’
In Ekiti State, the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ade Adesanmi, said there is no governor in Nigeria that should say N30, 000 minimum wage is too much, saying it is a matter of getting their priorities right. “They are just playing to gallery, if they set their priorities right, they can pay. After all, the governors in Nigeria obtain the same amount to pay salaries. “The amount is even ridiculous, because by calculation, it means about N1, 000 per day, so working for eight hours, it means N159 per hour. So if any governor says he cannot pay, workers are not going to succumb until the amount becomes a reality.”
It’s joke of the century Following the threat of state governors that they would have to downsize to be able to pay N30, 000 as minimum wage to Nigerian workers, leadership of Osun State workers yesterday kicked against the claim describing it as a joke of the century. The state Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Jacob Adekomi who spoke with our reporter said that, anything less than N30, 000 from the state government as minimum wage would be rejected. Comrade Adekomi affirmed that on N30, 000 minimum wage, the state labour leaders stand and that there would not be retreat, no surrender on the matter which he said, is paramount to them for now in the state. He maintained that, is either the state government pays the money as minimum wage or see the other side of labour. While speaking on the issue of downsizing, Adekomi said that, he could not see reason for that when in the actual sense, political office holders know how they take adequate care of their own. He however said that there is no cause for alarm as all hands will be on deck to see that the payment of the said N30, 000 as minimum wage is implemented in the state.
‘No going back on N30, 000’ In Adamawa State, the NLC described as funny and child play the decision of the Nigerian Governors Forum to downsize the workforce in order to pay the N30, 000. The State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Dauda Maina, who could not be reached for comment was said to have attended a meeting with the Head of Service on the issue of the national minimum wage. However, a staff in the Chairman’s office who prefers anonymity said the issue of the new minimum wage had been settled and the governor’s forum has no right to discuss what was agreed upon by the tripartite committee and the government. According to him, “there’s no going back as far as the N30, 000 minimum wage is concerned.” He added that the action of the governors is to thwart the intention of the federal government. He however maintained that despite their unnecessary disposition, about three or four states in the country had shown interest to pay even above the agreed wage; these states are willing to pay N32, 500 N35, 000 and even N37, 000. Meanwhile, the general view from the labour leaders in the state is that President Muhammadu Buhari should first give assent to the document and that any state governor that is unable to pay should as a matter of fact resign.
Bayelsa ‘NGF not recognised by law’
Bayelsa State Labour leader John Ndiomu said that Labour did not agree to downsizing. He said: “The governors forum is not a legal body and the process of coming by the minimum wage is not determined by the governors forum. “There is a process to be followed and that was why the presidency inaugurated a tripartite committee in 2017 and the committee has been working. “That is the constitutional process and that is the only way that we can get the minimum wage not governors forum. “Is that body a recognised body by law? You can imagine that for ordinary N30, 000 to be paid to poor workers in the country, governors are refusing. “It is quite unfortunate and we know that labour will stand by the truth. “For Bayelsa State, I will not speak for the governor but all I know is that he has said that whatever agreement that is reached he will pay even if it is 30,000 Also TUC chairman Bayelsa State, Tari Daunanagha, said: “I can’t support downsizing. Nobody will support downsizing. They should look at the realities and know that leadership is a privilege and implementing minimum wage is one of that privilege. “But in the other way round the revenue sharing formula should be looked into. Look at the way the revenue is being shared. The Federal Government takes 60 percent while the state and local governments take 40 percent. “The sharing formula should be adjusted. But that does not mean the N30, 000 minimum can’t be implemented. They are just using this to see how they can get a very good bargain regarding the sharing formula.”
Delta State It smacks of lack of governance
The Delta State chairman of NLC, Comrade Jonathan Jemiriyigbe, who spoke on the threat by Governors’ Forum to downsize workers to be able to pay the N30, 000 being demanded by the NLC as minimum wage in Asaba yesterday said it is an indication of an absence of government in the country. He said the threat is an indication of absenteeism government, maintaining that as far as workers in Delta State are concerned, Governor Okowa has made his position known on the demand. He said, “Our amiable Governor did not fall for anything, he has fallen for something. He said the state will pay whatever that is agreed as minimum wage. He said if it is N1 million per month, he will pay and if it is one kobo, the state will also pay. Presently, he is one of the governors out of the 36 states in Nigeria that is paying workers’ salaries regularly. Any other position from the Governors’ Forum is from the evil one.” His counterpart in the United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Ogbaloi Kelly, said the Governors that are paying lips service to laws on workers’ welfare, will soon get their mouth burnt on the matter. As according to him, any form of modern day slavery and oppression of workers will be resisted as from December deadline for implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage. “It is obvious that the Federal Government and the governors have settled for mischief. While some governors have gone extremely loquacious over the minimum wage; the Federal Government has not conducted its affairs with honour. We will justify our struggle when we get to the bridge.” Ogbaloi said.
Edo We won’t accept anything less than N30, 000 — Edo NLC Chair
Smarting from the threats by NGF to downsize the number of workers in their various states to be able to pay the latest N30, 000 minimum wage, the leadership of the NLC Edo State chapter said yesterday that there is no going back in regards to the tripartite agreement reached over the matter. Chairman of the NLC in the state, Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun said: “The position of the workers umbrella body is clear, we have given the Federal Government two weeks minimum to meet with the decisions reached by the tripartite committee. The governors forum that is making noise now they were party to that tripartite committee that met; about six governors were members of that committee. They submitted their intents before the committee submitted its report. Take note that we actually bargained for about N65, 000 minimum wage but when the tripartite body met we descended so low to accept the N30, 000 minimum wage because the private sector said we should agree to a figure where even the governors and the private sector can pay. “So, based on that report from the private sector, the labour keyed in and the majority must have their way while the minority must their say. But the issue of governors forum threatening that they would downsize and all that, we are used to that language, let the Federal Government approve the N30, 000 minimum wage for workers and let them go and tell their workers in their various states that they cannot pay. We cannot be deterred by that their threats. For us, forward we go, backward never. The tripartite committee had agreed on N30, 000 and there is no going backward on it. We are not going to accept anything less of that N30, 000.”
Kaduna Governors who cannot pay should resign – Kaduna NLC boss
Following the controversy generated by the proposed increment in the National minimum wage in the country, the NLC Kaduna State chapter has vowed that they will not entertain any retrenchment of its members in the state. In a direct reply to the position of the Nigerian Governors Forum that the proposed N30, 000 agreed by the tripartite negotiation committee is not plausible except they have to retrench, the Kaduna State chapter of the NLC told Saturday Telegraph that they are solidly behind the National headquarters of the NLC against sack of any of their members. Speaking through their Chairman, Comrade Adamu Ango, the body said, any governor that cannot pay the new minimum wage should resign. He said the NLC is ready to vote for those that are also ready to pay the new minimum wage. In a terse message to new Saturday Telegraph, Adamu said, “I have the same decision with the NLC headquarters. Any governor that can’t pay should resign and allow someone that can pay to come in”, he said.
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