Labour soft-ped­als as 15 states miss Dec 31 dead­line

• Unions give state work­ers go-ahead to con­tinue talks

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE -

NO fewer than 15 states have yet to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions on the new min­i­mum wage two days af­ter the dead­line the or­gan­ised labour gave gov­er­nors to sign agree­ments with their work­ers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions on Thurs­day by The PUNCH showed that Ek­iti, Cross River, Benue, Gombe, Osun, Sokoto, Oyo, Niger, Ogun, Enugu, Bayelsa, Rivers, Kwara, Taraba and Anam­bra states had not agreed on con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments of salaries as a re­sult of the new min­i­mum wage.

It was gath­ered that while La­gos, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kastina and Borno states had agreed to pay the new min­i­mum wage, oth­ers started ne­go­ti­a­tions few days to the end of the dead­line.

The new wage bill was signed by the Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari (retd.) on April 18, 2019, while the Fed­eral Govern­ment and or­gan­ised labour agreed on con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments on Oc­to­ber 18, 2019, af­ter a lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tion.

Both sides at a meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 18 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 at lev­els 10 to 14; and 14 per cent for work­ers at grade lev­els 15 to 17

Fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of talks at the fed­eral level, ne­go­ti­a­tions shifted to states a few days af­ter when the NLC di­rected its lead­ers in states to im­me­di­ately com­mence ne­go­ti­a­tions with gov­er­nors.

Labour gave the gov­er­nors the De­cem­ber 31 dead­line to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions to guar­an­tee in­dus­trial peace in their states.

Or­gan­ised labour had, at a meet­ing on De­cem­ber 11, re­viewed com­pli­ance with its di­rec­tives by states.

The labour lead­ers had stated that Borno, Abia, Kano, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Niger, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Katsina, and Zam­fara states had con­sti­tuted ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tees.

They added that Bauchi, Yobe, Rivers, Benue, Gombe, Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ek­iti, Oyo, Anam­bra, Taraba, Cross River, Ogun, Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi, and Delta states had not set up any com­mit­tees.

They said, “States which have not com­menced dis­cus­sion should quickly con­sti­tute ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tees and ex­pe­di­tiously con­clude dis­cus­sions on salary ad­just­ment con­se­quent on the new na­tional min­i­mum wage on or be­fore 31st De­cem­ber, 2019.

“In the event that any state fails to com­ply with these res­o­lu­tions on or be­fore 31st De­cem­ber 2019, or­gan­ised labour would not guar­an­tee in­dus­trial har­mony in such states.

Labour on Thurs­day said it had di­rected its mem­bers to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions de­spite the ex­pi­ra­tion of the De­cem­ber 31 dead­line.

Our cor­re­spon­dents’ in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed that labour lead­ers in many states dis­agreed with state gov­ern­ments over con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments aris­ing from the new min­i­mum wage

In Ek­iti State, it was learnt that work­ers and the state govern­ment had not con­cluded ne­go­ti­a­tions on the new min­i­mum wage.

The Chair­man of the Joint Ne­go­ti­at­ing Coun­cil in the state, Kay­ode Fatomiluyi, de­fended the state govern­ment, say­ing it was not foot-drag­ging on the min­i­mum wage ne­go­ti­a­tions.

He said, “To the best of my knowl­edge, as of now, I still can­not see re­luc­tance on the part of the state govern­ment be­cause ob­vi­ously, most of the things they are do­ing now – pro­mo­tion and re­cruit­ment – are un­der­stand­able.”

No se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tion has started – C’river NLC

In Cross River State, the Vice Chair­man of the state chap­ter of the NLC, Lawrence

Achuta, in an in­ter­view with The PUNCH, said, “No se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tion has started yet. The Joint Ne­go­ti­a­tion Coun­cil mem­bers are the ones lead­ing it, not the NLC. There is noth­ing hap­pen­ing.”

But the state Com­mis­sioner for In­for­ma­tion and Ori­en­ta­tion, Asu Okang, told The PUNCH that the state would not only pay the new min­i­mum wage, but also its ar­rears. He also said the state govern­ment had started ne­go­ti­a­tions with work­ers.

Benue work­ers await ne­go­ti­a­tion out­come

The Benue State Gov­er­nor, Sa­muel Or­tom, said that his govern­ment had set up a ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee.

His Chief Press Sec­re­tary, Terver Akase, in an in­ter­view with The PUNCH, said, “We are con­fi­dent that the out­come will be in the in­ter­est of ev­ery­one.”

The NLC Chair­man in the state, God­win Anya, said work­ers in the state would com­ply with the direc­tive of their na­tional lead­ers on the new min­i­mum wage.

He said, “If they fail to do the need­ful de­spite set­ting up a com­mit­tee for ne­go­ti­a­tions, we will com­ply with any direc­tive from the na­tional level.”

Gombe govt, work­ers yet to agree on in­cre­ments

In Gombe State, it was gath­ered that the state govern­ment had yet to agree on con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments.

The state Deputy Gov­er­nor and Chair­man Ne­go­ti­a­tion Com­mit­tee, Dr, Manas­sah Jatau, on Thurs­day said the state would pay the new min­i­mum wage.

He stated, “We have been ne­go­ti­at­ing. Even at 2pm, there will be an­other meet­ing. The Gombe State Govern­ment is not think­ing whether it will pay or not, that is not the con­sid­er­a­tion.

“At the mo­ment what the com­mit­tee is in­ter­ested in is the in­cre­men­tal rate and not whether or not the min­i­mum wage will be paid.”

The NLC Sec­re­tary in the state, Shuaibu Chi­roma, said that the state govern­ment had met one of the union’s de­mands which was for­ma­tion of the ne­go­ti­a­tion com­mit­tee.

Oyetola hinges pay­ment on in­creased IGR

Osun State Gov­er­nor, Adeg­boyega Oyetola, who in­au­gu­rated the state ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee on Tues­day, said work­ers must in­crease the state’s in­ter­nally gen­er­ated rev­enue.

On Thurs­day, Oyetola, at the in­ter-re­li­gious ser­vice for the New Year at the state sec­re­tariat, Abere, said the IGR re­mained the only source to raise money for pay­ment of the new wage.

Sokoto NLC re­jects govt of­fers

In Sokoto State, ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the state Govern­ment and the or­gan­ised labour have not yielded pos­i­tive re­sult.

The state NLC Chair­man, Umar Ahmed, said both sides dis­agreed on con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments.

He stated, “What the state ne­go­ti­a­tion com­mit­tee of­fered to us as in­cre­ment was min­i­mal com­pared to our ex­pec­ta­tions. Their rea­son is that there are other com­pet­ing de­mands for the state re­sources.

“How­ever, we have given them our new de­mands as we ex­pect ne­go­ti­a­tions to con­tinue. Our de­mands in­clude the pay­ment of the back­log ar­rears since the new min­i­mum wage bill was signed into law.”

Oyo work­ers meet govt to­day

The Oyo State Chair­man of the Trade Union Congress, Em­manuel Ogundi­ran, said the state govern­ment and or­gan­ised labour would meet on Fri­day.

He said, “They have met and the meet­ing con­tin­ues. I think they will meet again on Fri­day (to­day) and Tues­day.” Ogundi­ran said the state govern­ment was ver­i­fy­ing the state wage bill.

Enugu ne­go­ti­a­tions to be con­cluded on Mon­day

In Enugu State, the Joint Ne­go­ti­a­tion Com­mit­tee on min­i­mum wage will meet on Mon­day to con­clude talks on salary ad­just­ments.

The Chair­man of the Joint Public Ser­vice Ne­go­ti­at­ing Coun­cil, Chuk­wuma Ig­bokwe, told The PUNCH on Thurs­day that the state govern­ment had said it would pay the new min­i­mum wage.

He stated, “We are meet­ing on Mon­day to fi­nalise our report and then sub­mit to the larger com­mit­tee. That is where we are on min­i­mum wage con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments.”

We haven’t reached any com­pro­mise with govt – Ondo NLC

The NLC in Ondo State said the or­gan­ised labour was still ne­go­ti­at­ing with the state govern­ment.

The state Chair­man of the NLC, Mr Sun­day Adel­eye, said, “It is in­struc­tive to note that the Ondo State Govern­ment set up a ne­go­ti­a­tion team in Novem­ber 2019 and up till now, ne­go­ti­a­tions are go­ing on.

“No com­pro­mise has been reached with govern­ment on an agree­able new salary ta­ble over the min­i­mum wage for Ondo State work­ers.”

Ogun work­ers, govt’s ne­go­ti­a­tion dead­locked

In Ogun State, the Chair­man of the NLC, Em­manuel Bankole, said the ne­go­ti­a­tion com­mit­tee had been con­sti­tuted.

He, how­ever, said the com­mit­tee’s meet­ing was dead­locked on Tues­day over the is­sues of con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments and the date for the pay­ment to start.

He said, “In Ogun State, We have met on many oc­ca­sions, but on Tues­day the meet­ing dead­locked and par­ties were asked to re­fer to their prin­ci­pals and they are to brief the gov­er­nor on our own pro­posal.”

When asked about the cause of the dis­agree­ment, Bankoole said, “It is on in­cre­ments. We are propos­ing cer­tain per­cent­age in­creases and they are propos­ing some­thing lesser than what we are propos­ing .

“Two, on the ef­fec­tive date , we were say­ing that the bill was signed into law in April. So, the com­mence­ment date should be from April. These is­sues are go­ing to be tabled be­fore the gov­er­nor.”

We are still ne­go­ti­at­ing

– Niger NLC

Also, the Chair­man of the NLC in Niger State, Yakubu Garba, said the state had yet to im­ple­ment the pay­ment of N30,000 min­i­mum wage as pro­posed by the Fed­er­al­go­v­ern­ment.

Garba, in an in­ter­view with The PUNCH, said, “We are still ne­go­ti­at­ing with the state govern­ment on the pos­si­bil­ity of im­ple­men­ta­tion. We are mak­ing progress and the state govern­ment is re­spond­ing in any case. We are go­ing to have an­other meet­ing on Fri­day to dis­cuss when the state will start pay­ing.”

In Bayelsa State, the out­go­ing Gov­er­nor, Mr Se­ri­ake Dick­son, on Thurs­day set up a 12-mem­ber com­mit­tee on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the N30,000 new min­i­mum wage.

The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the state Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Ori­en­ta­tion, Mr Mighty­man Dikuro, in a state­ment on Thurs­day, said that Dick­son gave the ap­proval on De­cem­ber 31, 2019.

The NLC Chair­man in Taraba State, Peter

Gambo, told The PUNCH on Thurs­day evening that the state govern­ment had not set up a com­mit­tee.

“Or­gan­ised labour will hope­fully meet on Mon­day to take a de­ci­sion on it,” Gambo said.

Rivers work­ers, govt at log­ger­heads over con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments

In Rivers State, labour and the state govern­ment have yet to reach an agree­ment on the min­i­mum wage for civil ser­vants.

State NLC Chair­per­son, Beatrice Itubo, told one of our cor­re­spon­dents that although the state govern­ment had agreed to pay the N30,000 min­i­mum wage, the is­sue of con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments had not been sorted out.

Itubo dis­closed that the state govern­ment and labour would meet on Mon­day to iron out the is­sue of con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments.

She said, “We are still dis­cussing. We have come with our po­si­tion and they (Rivers State Govern­ment) have also come with their po­si­tion. So, we are back to the draw­ing board and by Jan­uary 6, I want to be­lieve that we are go­ing to come up with a truce.

“They (state govern­ment) didn’t ar­gue about the N30,000 min­i­mum wage. Where the ar­gu­ment is com­ing from is the con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ment. The is­sue of the min­i­mum wage is a no-go-area.”

It was gath­ered that Anam­bra State had not signed any agree­ment with labour in the state on the new min­i­mum wage.

An NLC leader in the state, who spoke to one of our cor­re­spon­dents on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the de­lay was be­cause of the over­seas trip of the Gov­er­nor, Wil­lie Obiano, some weeks back.

The NLC chair­man in the state,jerry Nnu­bia, could not be reached on the tele­phone.

But the Bauchi State Gov­er­nor, Senator Bala Mo­hammed; his Katsina State coun­ter­part, Aminu Masari; Nasir El-ru­fai (Kaduna); Gov­er­nor Umara Zu­lum (Borno State) and the La­gos State Gov­er­nor, Baba­jide San­woolu, have ap­proved the pay­ment of the new min­i­mum wage for work­ers.

La­gos State ac­tu­ally in­creased its min­i­mum wage to N35,000 and be­gan pay­ment in Novem­ber.

Unions give state work­ers go-ahead to con­tinue talks

The Na­tional Chair­per­son of the Joint Na­tional Public Ser­vice Ne­go­ti­at­ing Coun­cil (Trade Union Side), Ab­dul­rafiu Adeniji, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with one of our cor­re­spon­dents on Thurs­day said labour would al­low states that just con­sti­tuted ne­go­ti­at­ing pan­els to con­tinue talks.

He said the JNPSNC would ex­pect feed­back from such states be­fore labour lead­ers would meet in the next few days.

Adeniji said, “We have to first re­view the states that have be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tions and those that have com­pleted them. We know some of them mean busi­ness. We have is­sue with those who have not be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tions at all.

“Soon, we are go­ing to meet and take a de­ci­sion on what will be our re­sponse. For those who are just in­au­gu­rat­ing ne­go­ti­at­ing pan­els, they have to con­tinue their ne­go­ti­a­tions and we must get feed­back from them be­fore we col­late the states that have be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tion, com­pleted it or still ne­go­ti­at­ing.” Chuk­wudi Akasike, Olufemi Atoyebi, Abio­dun Nejo, Bola Bamigbola, John Charles, Chima Azubuike, Adeniyi Olugbemi, Wale Oye­wale, Daud Olatunji, Raphael Ede, Peter Dada, Tony Okafor, Justin Ty­op­u­usu and Enyioha Opara

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