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Labour Kicks As 20 States Fail To Pay Workers Wage Award

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In spite of the Federal Government’s initiation of a supplementary wage award of ₦35,000 to alleviate economic pressures eight months ago, 15 states have yet to comply with this directive, while seven others have ceased payments after briefly complying.
This comes on top of the standard ₦30,000 minimum wage, creating a complex financial scenario for many state workers across Nigeria.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed significant dismay at the refusal of some state governments to implement the wage award, terming it “the height of insensitivity” amid rising economic challenges faced by workers due to various anti-poor governmental policies.

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Of the non-compliant states, the geographical spread includes one from the South-East, four from the South-South, three from the North-East, two from the North-Central, and five from the North-West.

Meanwhile, states like Delta, Niger, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, and Nasarawa had initially started the wage bonus but discontinued it within four months.

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Conversely, a few states have taken a proactive approach by not only implementing the additional wage but exceeding the minimum guideline. States such as Lagos, Edo, Bayelsa, and 12 others are providing their workers with increments ranging from ₦10,000 to ₦40,000.

During a March visit to Minna, Niger State, President Bola Tinubu urged all 36 state governors to ensure the implementation of this wage award as a measure to mitigate widespread economic difficulties.

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The call was made in the presence of several governors, including Hyacinth Alia of Benue, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara.

 

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Speaking directly to Abdulrazaq, who is chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Tinubu said: “I have been paying wage awards pending determination of the new minimum wage. Let all the sub-nationals start paying that. The wage award, with whatever they are taking now, will relieve the public. I am not giving an order, I am appealing to you sub-nationals. It’s a relief to the people.”

Despite the president’s plea, many states are yet to commence paying wage awards to their workers.
In Delta State, the Commissioner for Information, Ifeanyi Osuoza said the state government will set up a committee to examine wage-related issues.

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He said: “Governor Sheriff Oborevwori said during Workers Day that a committee would be set up to look into it so that, at the end of the day, we can be able to be on the same page with labour and workers; that is the line we are following.”

On whether the committee will look into wage awards in addition to minimum wage, Osuoza said: “Anything that has to do with emoluments for workers, the committee will look at it.”

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Rivers and Akwa Ibom governments said they were waiting for an official declaration by the Federal Government on the wage increase, while the Delta State government had set up a committee to review workers’ wages.

Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State assured that his administration will key into the new minimum wage for workers when it comes into force.

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“We have directed the compilation of casual workers in the state. We will continue to ensure that we support our workers, and we will continue to do our best to make them happy. We will ensure that we continue to improve our workers’ welfare.

“And on the minimum wage, we will wait for the Federal Government and then we will key into it and come to terms with the minimum wage for Akwa Ibom civil servants,” the governor stated on Workers Day.

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The Rivers State Government is also awaiting the outcome of the tripartite negotiations between the Labour, Organised Private Sector, and the Federal Government on minimum wage to determine its next action.

While labour is demanding N250,000 minimum wage, the Federal Government and OPS have offered N62,000.

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President Tinubu, in his Democracy Day broadcast, said he will send an executive bill to the National Assembly on the issue soon.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, said: “With the robust relationship existing between government and workers in the state, we are only waiting for the outcome of ongoing negotiations between Labour and the Federal Government to do the needful. We will take a position when the parties decide what to pay the workers. We will look at the size of our portfolio and decide on what to do.”

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President of Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Clifford Paul, told Vanguard that Governor Siminalayi Fubara had approved the payment of ₦35,000 to workers.

He said Fubara announced the approval during a meeting with NULGE leadership and principal officers of the local government councils at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

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“The governor also approved immediate implementation of the N35,000 wage award approved by the Federal Government to cushion the effect of the removal of.”

The chair of the NLC in the state, Alex Agwanwor, regretted that the governor had not commenced the implementation because of political distractions.

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He said: “The state government has not started the payment but plans have been concluded. The problem we have now is the political unrest in the state. The political distraction in the state is much and I think it is affecting the implementation.

“We are not bothered about that now. It is not our priority now. What the governor is doing for the workers in the state is even more. We cannot assess his performance based on that because he is taking care of the welfare of the workers with a good heart.”

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