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Pay new wage or quit, Labour tells governors

New Minimum Wage: Labour union threatens strike, warns Buhari govt over delay implementation
A showdown is looming between organised labour and state governors over the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the new minimum wage, following conflicting statements by the governors on their preparedness to pay.

Although some of the governors have pledged to pay and Kaduna State has even started paying, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) recently declared that the agreement between the federal government and labour on consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage is not binding on states.

Some of the governors are already canvassing an upward review of the revenue allocation to the states to enable them to cope with the financial implications of the new minimum wage.

But labour is not ready for any excuses and has warned governors who are not prepared to pay to resign.

The Secretary, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), Alade Lawal, and President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, told The Nation in separate interviews in Abuja that while workers are willing to negotiate with willing governors on the matter, they will not hesitate to stand up to those who may not want to pay.

Lawal dismissed the fresh agitation for more revenue allocation by the states as “a ploy to truncate the entire process of implementing a minimum wage and consequential adjustment.”

But he said it was too late in the day for any governor to resort to such tactics.

He said: “If you are saying they want revenue allocation sharing formula to be reviewed, are they not aware that minimum wage is a law and it is subject to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention?

“Every five years, you will be reviewing upward minimum wage because the formulators of the laws know that a lot of things would have happened within the national economy to meet needs that you had earlier agreed.

“Are they saying that if you review the revenue allocation sharing formula now, the next one (review of minimum wage) you will also review revenue allocation sharing formula? And then the next one? At a stage, they (governors) will be having 100 per cent.

“By the time they have 100 per cent, federal will have zero and others will have zero. As you move forward, they will be asking for more percentage. Can you go above 100 per cent?

“As far as we are concerned, the calls are uncalled for. It is not necessary. Within the limit of the resources they have, they can implement very easily.

“Some of them see their respective states as their personal properties. That is just the tragedy of the whole situation, and the moment they wake up to the reality that they are just there to lead the governance of those states to prosperity, the better for all of us.

“When these states were being created, there were lots of noise here and there that they could stand on their own even without federal government allocation, without federal government assistance and support. Now the states have been created, some people are now telling us the stories of I will need a revenue allocation sharing formula to be reviewed.

“What is the percentage the increased minimum wage is going to have on their wage bill? The only thing is that they are not prepared to reduce their greed. I know there are many amongst them who are already preparing to engage with labour. When we go about those ones, it will be clearer. Those ones that want to be difficult, we will move in to do the needful.

“Any governor that says he cannot implement the new minimum wage should resign or be impeached. There is nothing they are waiting for in the Government House if they cannot implement. That is our position.”

The TUC President, Olaleye said: “After all it took to reach that agreement, I am surprised that those governors can expose themselves to the extent of letting the public know that all their promises to Nigerian workers before the election were mere deceit to get votes.

“As much as we are not against reviewing the revenue sharing formula either upward or downward, based on who can move the economy forward between the federal or states, my advice for those state governors who claimed they cannot pay, is to resign and allow pragmatic and prudent politicians to lead their state.

“I am aware most of them don’t even have the interest of the populace at heart.”

One of the states pushing for revenue sharing formula review to meet workers’ aspirations is Benue.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, said an upward review of the revenue sharing formula would do the states a lot of good, especially in paying the minimum wage and still execute quality projects.
”We think that Benue workers deserve even more than N30,000 if the funds were there,” Akase told The Nation in Makurdi. He said the government would soon commence discussions with workers representatives to arrive at an acceptable solution so that government would not be shut down.

Kano requires additional N500m monthly to pay new minimum wage

The Kano State Government also will not mind an increase in its monthly revenue at it requires an additional N500 million monthly to implement the new minimum wage.

The state’s Head of Service Alhaji Kabiru Shehu said: “We have promised to pay N30,600; that is even above the Federal government’ N30,000. As you know, Kano has the largest civil servants population in Nigeria.

“We are currently paying N9.6 billion as salaries monthly. With the new minimum wage, we need an extra N500 million; that means we need over N10 billion monthly to pay the wage bill.”

He added: “We are currently engaging the labour unions on the matter.

“The federal government has instructed its agencies to pay, but the directive was not for the state governments.

“We have approximately a workforce of 180,000. That is huge.

As part of the effort to shore up the state’s financial base, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has tasked the Internally Generated Revenue committee headed by his Chief of Staff, Haruna Ali Makoda, to increase the IGR by 300 per cent within six months.

We’ll definitely pay new minimum wage, says Masari

Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State says the state government will “definitely pay” the new minimum wage and the consequential salary adjustments as agreed between organised labour and the federal government

Speaking through the state’s Head of Service, Alhaji Idris Usman Tune, the governor said the government had already constituted a committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the State, Dr Mustapha Mohammed Inuwa, to negotiate with labour.

He said: “The state government has remained consistent in the payment of salaries and gratuities to its workers since its inception in 2015 and has maintained a leading position in that light in the entire Northern states.

“We have been maintaining excellent welfare packages for our workforce since 2015, hence we will definitely pay the minimum wage irrespective of whether there is an incentive from the federal government or not.’’

He, however, called for the understanding of the local leadership of the NLC during negotiation with the state government. He urged them to understand the rural status of the state and the fact that it is managing its meagre resources and may not be in a position to compete with some other states.

He said the state is also open to any form of “bailout, special intervention or otherwise. But if there is none, we will definitely pay.”

Osun to align with NGF, RAMFAC

The Osun State Government promised to go with whatever position is taken by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Revenue Allocation, Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFAC) on the new minimum wage.

Finance Commissioner Bola Oyebamiji told The Nation on the phone that the NGF is always meeting on issues relating to the state of the nation, including the minimum wage and allied matters.

He said: “On whether Osun will demand fresh bailout from the Federal Government and ask for a review of the revenue allocation as done by the Benue State government, is largely dependent on the position of the NGF and RAMFAC.

“As a stakeholder and member of these two associations, Osun will always support whatever that is for the good of Nigerian and workers.

“There is a process the RAMFAC will follow for review revenue as well as salaries and allowances for political, public and judicial officeholders. Osun as part of this does not fail to make meaningful contributions that have considerations for the interest of Nigerians.”

No position yet says AbdulRazaq

The Kwara State Government says it has not taken any position on when and how it will implement the consequential adjustments to the new minimum wage in the state.

It added that as soon as a position is reached between the labour unions and the government in the state, all the stakeholders will be informed.

In a terse SMS to our correspondent’s enquiries, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s spokesperson, Rafiu Ajakaye, said: “No position has been taken yet on it. When that is done, we will inform all the stakeholders including the media.”

The state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had earlier said it would soon make its position on the implementation of N30,000 new minimum wage regime for workers in the state public.

But it declared that it would not rush into signing an agreement with the government on the new minimum wage regime.

NLC said it would wait for further directive on a new template for implementation from its national headquarters.

It promised to work with organised labour, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) to ensure success in its struggle for the cause of workers and pensioners.

Adamawa to implement minimum wage from this month

The Adamawa State Government will begin the payment of the full minimum wage by the end of this month.

A spokesman for Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Solomon Kumangar, said in a statement in Yola that the governor“has directed that payment of the new national minimum wage should commence from November 2019. This order covers state civil servants as well as local government employees.”

Kumangar, who later spoke to our correspondent on whether or not Governor Fintiri would approach the Federal Government for a bailout, said Fintiri would not take such step.

“The state is overburdened with bailout already. He will find his way to deliver on this responsibility,” Kumangar said.

Kumangar added that since the governor had already issued the directive for the implementation of the new wage, it meant that the governor was ready for it.

“The directive means that he had decided to do it on his own without having to get a bailout,” Kumangar said.

Yobe will pay new minimum wage without stress, says Accountant General

The Accountant General of Yobe State Alhaji Usman Bura told The Nation in Damaturu that the state government was ready to pay the new minimum wage.

His words: “Our Chief Accounting Officer, who is the Executive Governor, has promised to pay the N30,000 minimum wage and we are going to pay without having a problem. This is what we have been doing over the past years and we will not have problems paying the minimum wage as agreed.

“It is on record that, unlike other states, Yobe has never delayed the payment of salaries to its workers. The salaries usually come on the 24-25th of every month. The last time we had a delay till the end of the month was when we were upgrading our systems, so it dragged us to the end of the month.

“But other than that, we have been prompt in salary payment and gratuities and pensions to retired civil servants in the state.

“Even with the change of government, nothing has changed in the payment of salaries in the state. And with what we are doing now, we are confident that Insha Allah, we can pay the new minimum wage without any stress in the state as promised by the governor.”

Rivers too

The Rivers state government is also ready to pay the new minimum wage.

The Special Assistant on Electronic Media to the state governor, Simeon Nwakudu said there is no cause for alarm as Governor Nyesom Wike will always fulfill any promise made by him, especially when it concerns civil servants.

“The state Governor Wike has always said that he will begin to pay the new minimum wage to the state workers the moment the FG releases the template and directives on how to go about it,” Nwakudu said.

‘It is common knowledge in the state that the governor has always made it clear that he will pay. He is only waiting for directives from the Presidency. Workers’ new wage has never been an issue of dialogue in the state and I can assure the public that the Governor will begin the payment as soon as it is approved.”

Ondo govt: Committee report to guide us on payment

The Ondo State government will be guided by the report of the committee it set up on the issue, Information and Orientation Commissioner Donald Ojogo said in Akure.

The committee is yet to submit its report.

However, Economic Planning and Budget Commissioner Emmanuel Igbasan has said that the full implementation of the new minimum wage would cost the state government an additional N9billion per year from the current N36billion.

He said that for the state government to pay the new minimum wage without downsizing or owe salaries, something has to be done about the current revenue sharing formula

Niger, Enugu, Plateau studying situation

The Niger, Enugu and Plateau state governments appear to be still studying the situation.

A top government official in Enugu State said while the government is committed to workers’ welfare, it will go with the collective decision of the Governors Forum.

The official who does not want to be named said: “Whatever the decision of the other states on the issue, Enugu will surely toe the line. Our governor is committed to the welfare of the workers. So whatever decision the entire states collectively take, we will abide by it.

“Nonetheless, the Enugu state government is working out its own blueprint on the issues geared towards the overall good of the workforce in the state.”

The state currently receives a monthly allocation of between N4.10b and N4.96b from the Federation Account.

With a workforce of close to 50, 000, it spends an annual wage bill of N20.4b.

Sources at the state internal revenue department of the Ministry of Finance put the personnel cost at N35.76b while the overhead cost is N19.018b.

The state commissioner for Finance, Ada Onah Kene-Uyanwune declined comments on the issue of the amount needed to effect the minimum wage of N30,000.

She rather referred the correspondent to the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya whose telephone line remained busy up till the time of filing this report.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Niger State Governor, Mrs. Mary Noel Berje said the government is still discussing the issue.

“Nothing’s has changed, for now. The state government is still working out modalities regarding the new minimum wage. They are still discussing the issue.”

The NLC chairman in Plateau State, Comrade Eugine Manji, said the state government and labour are yet to open negotiations on the new minimum wage because “the department of wages and salaries in the ministry of finance is yet to send the template to the state government.”

Comrade Manji said: “It is only when we see the temple that we can begin to calculate the difference between the current salary scale and the new one. But for now we are in the dark, we have to wait until we hear from our national body.”

The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, which negotiated the consequential adjustment arising from the new minimum wage of N30,000 with the Federal Government, on Thursday said that it had reached out to all state governors to immediately begin negotiation with workers in their states.
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