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13 December 2019

Labour threatens strike over non-payment of minimum wage

Organised labour has warned that it will not guarantee industrial harmony in states that refuse to complete negotiations on the new minimum wage of N30,000 with it and begin payment of the new wage structure by December 31, 2019.

The Federal Government reached an agreement with labour unions on consequential increase in workers’ salaries as a result of the new minimum wage on October 18, 2019 after protracted negotiations, with government at the state level expected to open negotiations with labour representatives in their states.

A communique issued by the NLC after a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the new national minimum wage at the state level, which was held in Abuja on Wednesday, however, said labour observed that 19 state governments had yet to begin negotiations with labour representatives in their states.

The communiqué, which was signed by the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba; the union Secretary-General, Emmanuel Ugboaja; and the National Chairman, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (Trade Union side), Abdulrafiu Adeniji, said from the report reaching the national leadership of labour, only four states (Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, and Adamawa) had begun payment of the new wage structure.

It stated that Jigawa had concluded negotiations but yet to make its first payment to workers.

The communiqué noted that Borno, Abia, Kano, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Niger, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Katsina and Zamfara states had constituted negotiating committees on the consequential adjustment in salaries, while Bauchi, Yobe, Rivers, Benue, Gombe, Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Anambra, Taraba, Cross-River, Ogun, Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi and Delta states had yet to put in place a negotiating committee.

The communiqué added, “(The meeting) commended the Federal Government and the states which have already commenced the implementation and payment of the new national minimum wage arising from negotiations with organised labour. The meeting also appreciated and applauded directives by the Federal Government to all ministries, departments and agencies to pay minimum wage arrears by December 31, 2019.

“States that are still on the discussion table should expedite discussions to conclude the negotiations on or before December 31, 2019. States which have not commenced discussion should quickly constitute negotiating committee and expeditiously conclude discussions on salary adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage on or before December 31, 2019.

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

In an interview with our correspondent, the NLC chairman in Kogi State, Onuh Edoka, said although Governor Yahaya Bello had paid the November 2019 salaries, the state government still owed workers several months of salaries.

He added that barely two weeks to the ultimatum given by labour for all negotiations to be concluded, the state government had yet to meet labour over the issue.

He said it would be difficult for the government to meet the deadline.

He said, “The two weeks may not be what we look at. It is all about understanding between labour and government of the state. We have to look at what is good for the workers. I cannot speak for the government by saying that it will not pay by December 31, 2019 or pay, but we will do everything possible to bring the government to the negotiation table. For us in Kogi, we stand by the figure that the Federal Government had implemented.”

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