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Labour to go after states yet to implement minimum wage

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[files] Members of Nigeria Labour congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) .PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO

The organised labour said it would go after state governments that are yet to begin implementation of the N30, 000 new national minimum wages.

Labour said if it does not see improvements within the next one month, it would apply labour methodology and other options at its disposal to press home their demand since dialogue was no longer working.

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It argued that considering the fragile economy, the new wage is not sustaining workers, let alone depending on old wages for upkeep.

President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, in an interview with The Guardian, said about 16 states are yet to commence payment of the new minimum wage.

Noting that some states have concluded negotiation with labour but are yet to begin implementation, he said the leadership of the organised labour is on the matter.

He mentioned some of the states to include Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, only implemented levels one to six with backlogs of arrears on promotion; Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun with huge remittance on deductions; Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Kano, and Zamfara.

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Olaleye, who expressed concerns about the very fragile economy, said as patriotic Nigerians, the union would not want to paralyse economic activities.

“However, we may have no option if we are compelled to do so. The fate of Nigerian workers is not something to celebrate. As long as the cost of governance is huge and farmers cannot go to farm due to insecurity, then we have a serious problem at hand. Farming is one-way workers supplement whatever they get as salary at the end of the month; and now bandits and kidnappers, among others are not allowing them to have access to their farm, it calls for worry but it is not a hopeless situation,” he started.

He said TUC is engaging and persuading the governors to commence payment.

He revealed that the delay in payment has brought more responsibility on the affiliates as most workers at the state level most times fall back on their parent bodies seeking one assistance or the other to stay afloat.

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This is just as the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Innocent Bola-Audu, said organised labour in 2021, will not relent and will continue to push until “We get it done. We are not relaxing. We want to give them reasonable time between now and March and if we do not see any improvement, we will then change the style by applying labour methodology and applying every option, including strikes to press home our demands.”

He urged the governors to do everything they can to make payment of salaries an easy process.

Sharing his thoughts on workers’ plight, Bola-Audu said: “It is a horrible situation. That is why we are pushing that they should endeavour to pay the new minimum wage. Even if it is N3, 000 added to the salaries, some people are going to manage it.

“States that are yet to implement is a serious violation of the national minimum wage law that was passed. There is no excuse. It is not a good thing that you have a federation where one just believes what is obtainable they will not follow.”

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Some of the labour leaders commended the states implementing the new wage, especially Lagos State, which is the highest paying state as it increased workers’ salaries from the N30, 000 national minimum wages to N35, 000.

The labour leaders commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Secretary, TUC, Lagos State Council, Abiodun Aladetan, said: “In all fairness, when it comes to the welfare of workers, Lagos is at the top. We don’t have challenges of arrears or pension challenges.

“Currently, the governor has approved the creation of workers’ village, as a way of reducing the housing deficit in the state. For a worker, who receives N35, 000 minimum wage, we are looking at those things that deprive workers value for their money, and we concluded on housing and transportation problems. We are addressing it. The governor is worker-friendly. We expect workers to give in their best to ensure that the agenda of the government is achieved.”

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