No fewer than 15 states have yet to conclude negotiations on the new minimum wage two days after the deadline the organised labour gave governors to sign agreements with their workers.
Investigations on Thursday by The PUNCH showed that Ekiti, Cross River, Benue, Gombe, Osun, Sokoto, Oyo, Niger, Ogun, Enugu, Bayelsa, Rivers, Kwara, Taraba and Anambra states had not agreed on consequential adjustments of salaries as a result of the new minimum wage.
It was gathered that while Lagos, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kastina and Borno states had agreed to pay the new minimum wage, others started negotiations few days to the end of the deadline.
The new wage bill was signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on April 18, 2019, while the Federal Government and organised labour agreed on consequential adjustments on October 18, 2019, after a lengthy negotiation.
Both sides at a meeting on October 18 agreed on 23.2 percentage increase for workers at grade level 07; 20 per cent for those at grade level 08; 19 per cent for workers at grade level 09; 16 per cent for those at levels 10 to 14; and 14 per cent for workers at grade levels 15 to 17
Following the conclusion of talks at the federal level, negotiations shifted to states a few days after when the NLC directed its leaders in states to immediately commence negotiations with governors.
Labour gave the governors the December 31 deadline to conclude negotiations to guarantee industrial peace in their states.
Organised labour had, at a meeting on December 11, reviewed compliance with its directives by states.
The labour leaders had stated that Borno, Abia, Kano, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Niger, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Katsina, and Zamfara states had constituted negotiating committees.
They added that Bauchi, Yobe, Rivers, Benue, Gombe, Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Anambra, Taraba, Cross River, Ogun, Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi, and Delta states had not set up any committees.
They said, “States which have not commenced discussion should quickly constitute negotiating committees and expeditiously conclude discussions on salary adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage on or before 31st December, 2019.
“In the event that any state fails to comply with these resolutions on or before 31st December 2019, organised labour would not guarantee industrial harmony in such states.
Labour on Thursday said it had directed its members to conclude negotiations despite the expiration of the December 31 deadline.
Our correspondents’ investigations showed that labour leaders in many states disagreed with state governments over consequential adjustments arising from the new minimum wage
In Ekiti State, it was learnt that workers and the state government had not concluded negotiations on the new minimum wage.
The Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council in the state, Kayode Fatomiluyi, defended the state government, saying it was not foot-dragging on the minimum wage negotiations.
He said, “To the best of my knowledge, as of now, I still cannot see reluctance on the part of the state government because obviously, most of the things they are doing now – promotion and recruitment – are understandable.”
No serious negotiation has started – C’River NLC
In Cross River State, the Vice Chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Lawrence Achuta, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “No serious negotiation has started yet. The Joint Negotiation Council members are the ones leading it, not the NLC. There is nothing happening.”
But the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Asu Okang, told The PUNCH that the state would not only pay the new minimum wage, but also its arrears. He also said the state government had started negotiations with workers.
Benue workers await negotiation outcome
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said that his government had set up a negotiating committee.
His Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We are confident that the outcome will be in the interest of everyone.”
The NLC Chairman in the state, Godwin Anya, said workers in the state would comply with the directive of their national leaders on the new minimum wage.
He said, “If they fail to do the needful despite setting up a committee for negotiations, we will comply with any directive from the national level.”
Gombe govt, workers yet to agree on increments
In Gombe State, it was gathered that the state government had yet to agree on consequential adjustments.
The state Deputy Governor and Chairman Negotiation Committee, Dr, Manassah Jatau, on Thursday said the state would pay the new minimum wage.
He stated, “We have been negotiating. Even at 2pm, there will be another meeting. The Gombe State Government is not thinking whether it will pay or not, that is not the consideration.
“At the moment what the committee is interested in is the incremental rate and not whether or not the minimum wage will be paid.”
The NLC Secretary in the state, Shuaibu Chiroma, said that the state government had met one of the union’s demands which was formation of the negotiation committee.
Oyetola hinges payment on increased IGR
Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, who inaugurated the state negotiating committee on Tuesday, said workers must increase the state’s internally generated revenue.
On Thursday, Oyetola, at the inter-religious service for the New Year at the state secretariat, Abere, said the IGR remained the only source to raise money for payment of the new wage.
Sokoto NLC rejects govt offers
In Sokoto State, negotiations between the state Government and the organised labour have not yielded positive result.
The state NLC Chairman, Umar Ahmed, said both sides disagreed on consequential adjustments.
He stated, “What the state negotiation committee offered to us as increment was minimal compared to our expectations. Their reason is that there are other competing demands for the state resources.
“However, we have given them our new demands as we expect negotiations to continue. Our demands include the payment of the backlog arrears since the new minimum wage bill was signed into law.”
Oyo workers meet govt today
The Oyo State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Emmanuel Ogundiran, said the state government and organised labour would meet on Friday.
He said, “They have met and the meeting continues. I think they will meet again on Friday (today) and Tuesday.” Ogundiran said the state government was verifying the state wage bill.
Enugu negotiations to be concluded on Monday
In Enugu State, the Joint Negotiation Committee on minimum wage will meet on Monday to conclude talks on salary adjustments.
The Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Chukwuma Igbokwe, told The PUNCH on Thursday that the state government had said it would pay the new minimum wage.
He stated, “We are meeting on Monday to finalise our report and then submit to the larger committee. That is where we are on minimum wage consequential adjustments.”
We haven’t reached any compromise with govt – Ondo NLC
The NLC in Ondo State said the organised labour was still negotiating with the state government.
The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr Sunday Adeleye, said, “It is instructive to note that the Ondo State Government set up a negotiation team in November 2019 and up till now, negotiations are going on.
“No compromise has been reached with government on an agreeable new salary table over the minimum wage for Ondo State workers.”
Ogun workers, govt’s negotiation deadlocked
In Ogun State, the Chairman of the NLC, Emmanuel Bankole, said the negotiation committee had been constituted.
He, however, said the committee’s meeting was deadlocked on Tuesday over the issues of consequential adjustments and the date for the payment to start.
He said, “In Ogun State, We have met on many occasions, but on Tuesday the meeting deadlocked and parties were asked to refer to their principals and they are to brief the governor on our own proposal.”
When asked about the cause of the disagreement, Bankoole said, “It is on increments. We are proposing certain percentage increases and they are proposing something lesser than what we are proposing .
“Two, on the effective date , we were saying that the bill was signed into law in April. So, the commencement date should be from April. These issues are going to be tabled before the governor.”
We are still negotiating – Niger NLC
Also, the Chairman of the NLC in Niger State, Yakubu Garba, said the state had yet to implement the payment of N30,000 minimum wage as proposed by the Federal Government.
Garba, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We are still negotiating with the state government on the possibility of implementation. We are making progress and the state government is responding in any case. We are going to have another meeting on Friday to discuss when the state will start paying.”
In Bayelsa State, the outgoing Governor, Mr Seriake Dickson, on Thursday set up a 12-member committee on the implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage.
The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Information and Orientation, Mr Mightyman Dikuro, in a statement on Thursday, said that Dickson gave the approval on December 31, 2019.
The NLC Chairman in Taraba State, Peter Gambo, told The PUNCH on Thursday evening that the state government had not set up a committee.
“Organised labour will hopefully meet on Monday to take a decision on it,” Gambo said.
Rivers workers, govt at loggerheads over consequential adjustments
In Rivers State, labour and the state government have yet to reach an agreement on the minimum wage for civil servants.
State NLC Chairperson, Beatrice Itubo, told one of our correspondents that although the state government had agreed to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, the issue of consequential adjustments had not been sorted out.
Itubo disclosed that the state government and labour would meet on Monday to iron out the issue of consequential adjustments.
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She said, “We are still discussing. We have come with our position and they (Rivers State Government) have also come with their position. So, we are back to the drawing board and by January 6, I want to believe that we are going to come up with a truce.
“They (state government) didn’t argue about the N30,000 minimum wage. Where the argument is coming from is the consequential adjustment. The issue of the minimum wage is a no-go-area.”
It was gathered that Anambra State had not signed any agreement with labour in the state on the new minimum wage.
An NLC leader in the state, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the delay was because of the overseas trip of the Governor, Willie Obiano, some weeks back.
The NLC chairman in the state, Jerry Nnubia, could not be reached on the telephone.
But the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed; his Katsina State counterpart, Aminu Masari; Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna); Governor Umara Zulum (Borno State) and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have approved the payment of the new minimum wage for workers.
Lagos State actually increased its minimum wage to N35,000 and began payment in November.
Unions give state workers go-ahead to continue talks
The National Chairperson of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (Trade Union Side), Abdulrafiu Adeniji, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday said labour would allow states that just constituted negotiating panels to continue talks.
He said the JNPSNC would expect feedback from such states before labour leaders would meet in the next few days.
Adeniji said, “We have to first review the states that have begun negotiations and those that have completed them. We know some of them mean business. We have issue with those who have not begun negotiations at all.
“Soon, we are going to meet and take a decision on what will be our response. For those who are just inaugurating negotiating panels, they have to continue their negotiations and we must get feedback from them before we collate the states that have begun negotiation, completed it or still negotiating.”