Battle for Implementation of Minimum Wage Moves to States

  • Govs non-committal on commencement date
  • Await FG’s circular on agreement with labour

Our Correspondents 

Fresh from the conclusion of minimum wage consequential adjustment negotiations with the federal government, the organised labour has begun warming up for a fresh battle with state governors over when they would begin to pay minimum wage to their workers.

While some labour leaders are optimistic that their governors would pay the minimum wage, others are not sure on the amount to be paid and when the payment would take off.

Although the organised labour and the federal government had earlier reached an agreement on October 31 as take-off date for workers to receive the minimum wage and the arrears, THISDAY’s investigation showed that there had been no effective date so far for the implementation of the pay policy in the 36 states of the federation.

It was learnt at the weekend that the labour unions in many states were yet to meet with their state governments to work out modalities on the effective date of implementation.

Rather, some of the labour unions in the states are only relying on pledges by their state governments that they would pay the new wage without concrete agreement on the amount and the take-off date.

In Bayelsa State, there appears to be no concrete negotiation going on as the state government and organised labour have not set a date for commencement of payment.

While Governor Seriake Dickson said he was ready to pay whenever all the statutory processes were completed, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. John Ndiomu, said neither the state government nor the organised labour knew the actual salary each worker would get until a letter to the effect was transmitted from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

But Dickson said his state could not operate in isolation, saying that the governors have been meeting to sort out all the grey areas before commencement of payment.

“Before we round off in February, we will have a wonderful message for our workers and we believe they will be very happy with what they will hear. Concerning this minimum wage, as much as the spirit is willing, sometimes the body gets spent,” he said.

But Ndiomu told THISDAY that there was nothing on the ground to indicate when the payment would begin.

“Even though the governor has pronounced that once the minimum wage is approved there will be consequential adjustment, I believe that the issue is being resolved. But for now, what we are having are just radio and newspapers announcements. There has to be a formal letter to all the states, so we can engage the government,” he said. 

In Taraba State, the commencement date for the implementation of the new minimum wage is uncertain.

Speaking with THISDAY, the Head of Service (HoS) of the state, Mr. Simon Angyu, said it was premature to talk of implementation in the state.

According to him, “We are yet to receive the circular. And implementation cannot commence in the state without having a copy of the circular. So, I cannot categorically state when the implementation would commence in the state.”

The NLC Chairman in the state, Mr. Peter Gambo, said the state government was prepared for the implementation but would wait to receive the document after which NLC would swing into action.

The Zamfara State government said it would begin the payment of the minimum wage after forming its cabinet.

The governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zailani Zappa, told THISDAY that there were many issues on the ground to be resolved but assured workers that the state government would implement the minimum wage.

But the state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Bashiru Mafara, said the implementation of minimum wage did not need the constitution of cabinet.

He told THISDAY that labour would soon come out with its action plans.

In Borno State, the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Bulama Abiso, said though no arrangement had been concluded with the state government, the new salary would be paid in the state.

“Yes, the new salary would be paid because at many fora, Governor Zulum has shown his determination to pay whatever the final agreement and so far we have no reason to doubt his statement,” he said.

When asked if the leadership of labour has already approached the state government, Abiso said: “No, we are putting all the papers together and we will approach the government this week, the implementation is obvious from the day the bill was signed to law.”

In Edo State, the Chairman of NLC, Mr. Sunny Osayande, said he was not sure when the state government would begin the payment of the approved minimum wage as agreed with the federal government.

Osayande told THISDAY that the state congress, which was part of the negotiations with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, just came back from Abuja and was yet to report back to workers and the state Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), who would in turn meet with the Edo State Government.

“So, I can’t tell you exactly when. Not until we meet with government will we know when workers in the state will begin to enjoy the minimum wage,” he added.

In Oyo State, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said the governor would meet with the leadership of the workers in the state on the way forward on the payment of the new minimum wage.

He added that it is the outcome of the meeting that would determine what the state government would pay and the effective date of payment.

However, the state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Bayo Titilola-Sodo, said the union was waiting for the original salary chart agreed with the federal government so that it would be presented to the state government for implementation.

Also, the Chairman of NLC in Plateau State, Mr. Eugene Manji, told THISDAY that “No specific date yet, but payment will commence as soon as the template and other modalities are finalised. But it will take effect from the date of agreement which is April 18, 2019 when the president gave his consent/assent on the agreement.”

The state Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Majang, agreed with the labour leader that modalities are currently being worked out and that payment would commence as soon as the calculations are completed.

He, however, did not give specific month from when arrears will commence.

In Sokoto State, the state government said it was waiting for the report of the committee set up by Governor Waziri Tambuwal before the implementation of minimum wage.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity Mr. Bello Ahmed, said: “I am confident once the committee submits its report the implementation will commence immediately.”   

The state Chairman of NLC, Aminu Ahmad, said he was hopeful that the government would commence the implementation before the end of the year.

He added that labour had been meeting with the committee and the discussions had been fruitful.

In Lagos State, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, told THISDAY that the state government would start payment as soon as the labour unions and the state had reached an agreement on terms of the consequential adjustments.

However, in Kano State, the state Chairman of NLC,  Mr. Kabiru Ado Minjibir, said the state had agreed to pay the new minimum wage of N30, 000 and additional N600.

According to him, the negotiation is ongoing in the state with a view to kick-starting the payment.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has also restated his commitment to pay the new salary package to the civil servants in the state.

According to him, “we are ready to pay N30, 000 monthly salaries because the welfare of our workers is paramount to anything and we will always give it.”

The spokesperson of the Head of the Civil Service Office, Mr. Abbas Maje, told THISDAY that “I can only confirm to you that negotiation is continuing. I do not have additional fact to inform you for now”.

The NLC in Rivers State told THISDAY that it was confident that Governor Nyesom Wike would fulfill his promises on the payment of the minimum wage.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Ms. Beatrice Itubor, said: “We are waiting to receive the template of the minimum wage. As soon as we receive that, we will present it to the governor and see his response. But we are confident that he will pay because we know him as a keeper of his words. Now, we are waiting.”

The Akwa Ibom State chapter of NLC said it would this week extract commitment from the state government on the date for the commencement of the implementation of the new minimum wage.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Sunny James, told THISDAY that the labour movement in the state was confident that the state government would pay the new wage.

“In Akwa Ibom State we don’t have any problem we needed the federal government to finish whatsoever they did which they finished last week.

“Now that they have finished their own last Thursday, we will now begin our own implementation in earnest. The state government has no alternative than to abide with what the federal government has agreed to pay the workers,” he said.

The Anambra State Government said it would meet with members of the organised labour before knowing when to commence payment.

The state Commissioner of Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, said, “We need to, first, hold a meeting with the NLC and TUC and other stakeholders. It is not a unilateral decision which the state government will take and impose on everyone.”

The Deputy Chief Press Secretary to the Anambra State governor, Mr. Emeka Ozumba, also said, “The minimum wage is captured in the 2020 budget. Anambra has shown enough commitment to pay and it shall be so.”

In Osun State, the state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Jacob Adekomi, was of the opinion that the government would agree with the terms the moment the issue is agreed upon. 

According to him the state government has made it clear that the moment the matter is signed into law, it would implement it. 

Also, the state Chairman of NLC in Enugu State, Mr. Virginus Nwobodo, told THISDAY that the organised labour in the state was looking forward to the implementation of the new minimum wage by the state government without any delay.

He said the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), the Trade Union Congress and the NLC would soon hold a joint meeting to come up with an understanding on how to approach the state government.

The Senior Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Mr. Mike Okeme, also told THISDAY that the state was ready to pay the new minimum wage.

He said: “There is no controversy about it. Once the federal government releases the circular and the chart for the payment of new minimum wage across the different salary cadres, the Delta State Government shall commence payment.”

Kaduna State was the first state to officially commence the implementation of the national minimum wage of N30, 000 in September.

The state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Ayuba Suleiman, who confirmed the payment, told THISDAY that it was a good development.

The spokesman of Governor Nasir el-Rufai, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, said the gross monthly wage bill of the state has increased from N2.827 billion to N3.759 billion, representing 33 per cent increase.