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Govs, Labour begin fresh talks over N35,000 wage award

Private sector operators have ruled out fresh allowances for workers following the recent decision of the Federal Government to increase the wages of civil servants by N35,000……CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>

This came as state governors are gearing up to meet with labour unions in their states as regards calls for an upward review of the salaries of workers in states.

Already, some governors have initiated talks with labour leaders in their states, with a view to coming up with a plan and proposal that will work for both parties.

Several states, including Niger, Katsina, Gombe, Osun and others have expressed their intention to engage with Labour on the wage award approved by President Bola Tinubu.

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According to the agreement reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, the Federal Government granted a wage award of N35,000 only to all Federal Government workers beginning from September “pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.”

The decision, which was inked during a meeting between the FG and labour leaders on October 1, provided that the wage award would be paid to all federal workers for six months while states were encouraged to extend the same benefit to their workers.

In respect to the agreement, the Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Engagement, Kolapo Alimi, said after the agreement between the Federal Government and the labour unions, negotiation would begin at the state level.

Alimi, who called for patience, added that the Osun State Government had a good working relationship with the labour movement in the state.

“The Federal Government just made the pronouncement. States will not immediately follow suit. All states will continue to engage their workers on the specifics of the wage award. Here, we have a good working relationship with labour,” Alimi said.

Meanwhile, the NLC leadership in Osun State urged Governor Ademola Adeleke to approve the N35, 000 minimum wage award to all categories of workers in the state.

The demand was contained in a letter addressed to the governor, dated October 6, 2023, and jointly signed by the acting state chairman of the NLC, Modupe Oyedele, the chairman of the TUC, ‘Bimbo Fasasi and the Joint Negotiating Council chairman, Lasun Akindele.

The letter obtained by The PUNCH on Sunday partly read, “The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress has directed all state councils to immediately engage their respective state governments in effecting the agreed sum of thirty five thousand Naira (#35,000) only wage rewards to all categories of workers across board in the state service.

“The Labour movement in the state is not in any way in doubt of Your Excellency’s kind disposition towards the workers in the state. We are confident that worker’s welfare is important and very dear to your heart.

“It is therefore in this spirit that we urge Your Excellency to graciously approve the agreed sum of Thirty-Five Thousand Naira (#35,000) only wage rewards to all categories of workers across board in the state service commencing from the month of September, 2023 as contained in the signed memorandum of understanding that averted the proposed strike.”

According to the labour leaders, approving the new wage would go a long way in ameliorating and cushioning the hardship workers were going through due to the subsidy removal on petrol with its attendant biting economic effects.

When contacted, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Alimi assured that ‘’the government will definitely invite the labour leaders for negotiation on the issue.”

Also, the Niger State Government said it would deliberate on the proposed wage increase and come up with a decision.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Binta Mammam, said, “Niger State will deliberate the issue. It was a statement made by the President and as we all know. The governor of Niger State is not in the country.

The Katsina State chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress were expected to meet with the state Governor, Dikko Radda, over the demands of the workers in the state.

The state NLC Chairman, Husseini Hamisu, and his TUC counterpart, Muntari Ruma, confirmed the proposed meeting to our correspondent.

“We shall write to him to formally request a meeting where we shall discuss all the issues concerning a comprehensive welfare package for workers in the state,” the union jointly said.

The Gombe State Government said it would study the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and organised labour and act accordingly.

Speaking during an interview with our correspondent, the Director-General, Press Affairs, Ismaila Misilli, said the state had already implemented an additional N10,000 for workers in the state, including the local government staff.

He said, “Government has to study the MoU signed by FG and the organised labour first before arriving at a decision.”

The Delta State Government said it commenced the payment of wage award to its workers two months ago.

When asked if the government was prepared to implement the N35,000 wage award, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Festus Ahon, stated, “We actually took the lead. We started it about two months ago by giving N10,000 across board to all civil servants.”

On his part, the Chief Press Secretary of the Edo State Governor, Andy Okungbowa, said the state took the welfare of workers as important hence its decision to pay them N40,000 as the minimum wage.

He said, “Edo State now pays the highest minimum wage of N40,000 in the country. And the governor in his independence anniversary message disclosed that the state is reviewing the current minimum wage.

Private sector

On whether employees in private organisations would get a raise, the Director-General, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Wale Oyerinde, said there were no plans for any fresh increment of wages by the private sector for now.

He added that the private sector was already doing more to support their members before the government’s announcement.

“The private sector is already ahead of the government on this issue. We are already supporting our employees much more than the government just announced.

“So for now, there are no plans for any fresh increment because we are already supporting our employees currently. We are urging members that have not done anything in supporting their employees to consider what they can do,” he said.

The Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Niyi Yusuf, said it was important for workers across all sectors to earn living wages, and so the minimum wage deserved to be reviewed given the level of inflation and cost of living crisis.

“Hence, it is reasonable to expect that state governments and private sector employers will also adjust upwards the wages of their employees, if they have not done so already as I know many companies have made salary adjustments,” he noted.

The Chief Economist, SPM Professionals, Paul Alaje, cautioned that the wage increase might stoke inflation in the country.

He said, “The planned provisional increase in wage for all levels of federal workers will definitely have an impact on inflation. Inflation is expected to go up to between 26 and 27 per cent between now and March 2024.…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>

About the author

Bunady

JOLOWO BUNALAYEFA PIUS is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BUNADY NEWSLITE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE (Bunady.com). He started his Blogging/Journalism career at God's Own Wireless Company 2012. He's a graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, with a major in History And International Studies. You can contact him for press events, advertisement promotions on Email: contact.bunady@gmail.com

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