By Bimbola Oyesola, Lukman Olabiyi (Lagos), Geoffery Anyanwu (Enugu), Bamigbola Gbolagunte (Akure), Benjamin Babine (Abuja), Laide Raheem (Abeokuta), Gyang Bere (Jos), Oluseye Ojo (Ibadan), Ogbonnaya Ndukwe (Aba), Paul Osuyi (Asaba)
The Federal Government yesterday assured members of organised labour that the national minimum wage could not be removed from the exclusive legislative list. This also affirmed that all states are bound to pay the new minimum wage as it is a matter of law.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who represented President Muhammad Buhari at the 2021 May Day celebration, jointly organised by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to mark this year’s Workers Day, said it would be an attempt in futility.
Ngige, while responding to the complaints of the organised labour about the attempts by Nigeria’s ruling class to kill the national minimum wage by removing it as an item in the Exclusive Legislative List ad placing it in the Concurrent Legislative List, said any attempt to bring it into the concurrent list would not work as it would go against international convention which Nigeria is a signatory.
“Minimum Wage is still retained in the country’s Exclusive Legislative List of the constitution. It is not going to be taken to the Concurrent List. The Ministry of Labour will stay with you and ensure that it is not removed from the Exclusive List,” Ngige said.
The minister recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari signed the national minimum wage into law on April 18, 2019 and made it clear that the law took effect on that day.
“It’s a national law and state governments are bound by law to pay the national minimum wage. So it’s not a question of pick and choose. It was moved from N18,000 to N30,000 per month and it is irreducible. Therefore, we expect states and people in the private sector to comply. Also, all pensioners will get their pay from May and also their arrears starting from April 2019,” the minister stated.
Ngige expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to inclusive and sustainable development anchored by the decent work agenda to initiate and maintain economic growth.”
Meanwhile, the organised labour has demanded general salary review and a return of payment of gratuity to Nigerian workers most especially those in the civil service.
The NLC and TUC in their joint May Day address said: “We demand an upward review of salary of core civil servants to narrow the gap between their emoluments and those of employees in other segments of the public service.”
The address jointly read by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, implored the Federal Government to once more direct the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to set up a committee to undertake the review that is certainly overdue.
The labour leaders also called for the restoration of the payment of the gratuity to Nigerian workers, noting that though the 2004 Pension Reform Act was silent on the issue of payment of gratuity to workers, the Federal and some state governments had ceased paying gratuity to public service employees.
Jubilant workers in Enugu State have commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his administration’s laudable projects and programmes aimed at improving their living standard and that of the entire people of the state.
The workers who spoke, through the state Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo, and his TUC counterpart, Comrade Benneth Asogwa, on the occasion of this year’s May Day celebration, held at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, appreciated Gov. Ugwuanyi, who was present at the annual event, for his unequaled resilience in the approval and payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage and its consequential adjustment to the state workers.
They also appreciated the governor for the sustenance of payment of salaries on or before the 23rd of every month, other welfare packages, as well as numerous development projects across the state, in spite of the state’s lean resources and “even when the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic was severe. In his speech, Comrade Nwobodo, described Ugwuanyi as “the most labour-friendly governor in Nigeria.”
In Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu reiterated the commitment of his administration to the welfare of workers in the state, assuring that it would continue to take the centre stage in his administration.
He said: “Undoubtedly, in the last four years plus, we have displayed total commitment to the welfare of our workers. We believe the workforce is the engine room of governance. We have placed premium on sanitising the civil service and depoliticising the system.”
Workers in the State of Osun, yesterday, openly declared their unflinching support for the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and endorsed him for a second term. The state workforce also commended the governor for his commitment to their welfare and well-being since inception of his administration, describing him as a father.
On his part, the governor lauded workers in the state for their hard work, sacrifice, selflessness and commitment to duties towards building a better and more prosperous state.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State in his goodwill message told workers of his administration’s full commitment to clearing outstanding deductions from workers’ salaries on a quarterly basis. He also equally restated his commitment to ensuring that a minimum of N500 million was set aside to clear a backlog of gratuities amongst the various cadres of pensioners under the state government and local government services.
At the event held at the M.K.O International Stadium, Abeokuta, Abiodun assured the workers in the state that his government would continue to provide a conducive ambience to enhance their productivity, by renovating their various offices.
Meanwhile in Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong has directed the Head of Service to convene a meeting with the negotiation council for the signing of final agreement and consequential adjustment on the N30,000 new minimum wage in the state.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the implementation of the minimum wage, which commenced in October, 2020.
To mark the 2021 Workers Day, Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, donated 10 hectares of land to the state chapter of the NLC and the TUC for the purpose of housing scheme for the workers. The governor also offered to build a befitting headquarters for the unions in the next 12 months, with official cars for its leadership.
The presentation of the land documents were done at commemoration held at Mobolaji Johnson Stadium Arena, Onikan.
Chairman, NLC in Oyo State, Mr. Kayode Martins, yesterday appealed to Governor Seyi Makinde to absorb casual staff that have spent up to five years and above in the radio and television arms of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) into the civil service of the state.
Governor Makinde, who attended the Workers Day in person, in his speech, said his administration had prioritised workers’ welfare since he took over the reins of power in the state about two years ago, including payment of over N13 billion in gratuity, prompt approval of housing and car loans, promotion of workers that have been stagnated for five years, approval of opportunity for workers to rise to Grade Level 17, as well as pragmatic steps towards revamping of the economy of the state for all and sundry.
In support of the workers, a non-governmental organisation, Life Initiative for Rural Youths (ELIRY), has called on the government to assist the civil servants by providing them with basic needs to enable them live a good life.
It noted that despite their huge contributions to national growth and development, Nigerian workers die soon after retirement from service due to poor remunerations and the bad conditions they face.
In a statement signed by its Secretary, Chief Uche Emeku, and made available to Sunday Sun, the NGO regretted that “many Nigerian workers especially in the public sector are poorly paid; they are in some cases over-worked, and owed salaries for many months and are also not given a befitting work environment.”
ELIRY lamented that although workers are the engine room of government, they go home to poverty after politicians and their cronies have used them to waste funds.
In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma assured the workers in the state that their welfare would always be the priority of government.
In a broadcast yesterday, Governor Uzodimma not only lauded the workers in the state for their patience, cooperation, patriotism and understanding in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic that threatened their welfare, but assured them that he would not shirk his responsibility as their governor.
He commended the organised labour for standing firmly behind his government during the trying times of the automation process of the fiscal operations now almost completed, and assured that government was working day and night to ensure that no worker or pensioner had problem with their wages.
In the face of daunting challenges, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa commended workers in Delta State for their resilience and commitment to duty and sacrifices in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in total lock down in the better part of 2020.
Represented at by the Secretary to the State Government, Chiedu Ebie, at the May Day rally organised by the state chapters of the NLC and TUC, Okowa promised to continue to promote the welfare of the workers to ensure effective service delivery.