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18 states yet to commence negotiations on minimum wage adjustments

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has insisted that 18 out of the 36 states in the federation are yet to commence the process of negotiating consequential adjustments of the N30,000 minimum wage. The General Secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, who disclosed this to The Guardian in Abuja, explained that Abia and Ogun states were excluded from the list because the two states kick-started the process only a few days ago. He also faulted the claims of the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, that all the state governments have started the process of negotiation. 

The NLC listed the states to include: Bauchi, Yobe, Rivers, Benue, Gombe, Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Anambra, Taraba, Cross River, Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi and Delta states.He also said the Congress sent out feelers to the states councils to get update on the setting up of negotiation committees.   He added that the meeting at which the list of states that are yet to set up the committees were arrive at in Abuja, was not a clandestine gathering, but a public meeting which was attended by a representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, as well as Heads of Service of 10 states in attendance. His words: “We brought all the 36 states council chairmen to Abuja, including Abuja Council, and Heads of Service from about 10 states attended the meeting. 
 
“At the meeting, which took place penultimate week in Abuja, the NLC mandated our people to go back and call a State Executive Council (SEC) meeting. After the meeting, they should call a congress to allow the inclusion of more workers and pass the communiqué, which was issued at the meeting to everyone. We also added that each state should approach the state governments to form the negotiation committees. 
 


“During the meeting, four states told us they were going to raise the negotiating committee that week (last week). The list of the states yet to constitute the committee was not ‘manufactured’. The Heads of Service of some of these states were there physically and they confirmed the status. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige sent a director in the ministry to represent him at the occasion.”He accused the governors of making a mockery of the 2019 wage law, saying: “the Governors’ Forum is clearly making mockery of governance. Should the governors have to be prodded to perform their duty? This is a law that was signed since April 18, 2019 clearly more than eight months ago. The governors should have set up these committees since and not wait till now.”He hinted that Ogun and Abia states are the latest states to take concrete step towards setting up the committees in their states.
 
“The one that I am aware of though not by direct information is that of Ogun that has called people to a meeting. The NLC secretariat sent feelers to find out what the current situation is and we got this information,” he said. He expressed doubt over the genuineness of the governors to fully implement the minimum wage both in letter and spirit.  
 
He added: “We are talking about the implementation of a law; they say they are under obligation to obey the law, but when will they obey the law? How do we describe a law that was signed in April that has not been obeyed up to now? That to me is advertising lawlessness.”

Indeed, a communiqué issued at the end of the one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the new national minimum wage at the state level held on December 11, listed Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, Adamawa and Jigawa states as states that had taken concrete steps towards the implementation of the minimum wage fully. 
Jigawa has concluded negotiations but is yet to make its first payment to workers. 

States, which have constituted a Negotiating Committee between their Government and Labour on the consequential adjustment in salaries following the new national minimum wage, were Borno, Abia, Kano, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Niger, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Katsina and Zamfara. NLC then issued an ultimatum of December 31, for the conclusion of negotiations and subsequent implementation.  

It urged states that are still on the discussion table to expedite action to conclude the negotiations on or before December 31st, and also admonished those have not commenced discussion to quickly constitute a Negotiating Committee, and expeditiously conclude discussions on salary adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage on or before the deadline.It then warned that in the event that any state failed to comply with these resolutions on or before December 31st , the organised labour would not guarantee industrial harmony in such states.


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