By Francis Ogwo
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and some states in the country are at loggerheads over the non-payment of the new N30,000 Minimum Wage signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari 19 months after.
This was contained in a statement issued over the weekend by the NLC in which, according to them, three states; Imo, Anambra and Kogi, have refused to implement which they’ve alleged as breaching the NMW Act of 2019.
The organised labour therefore resolved to battle the affected states in the New Year, describing their refusal to pay as “wicked”, and “unacceptable.”
In the wake of Organised Labour’s December 31, 2019 deadline to states to conclude all negotiations and reach agreement with Labour leaders in the states on implementation, Imo State had, before the end of 2019, promised to implement the new minimum wage from January 2020.
One year after, the Imo State government is still procrastinating on the implementation of the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage.
Governor Hope Uzodinma of the state has always spoken of the preparedness of his administration to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.
Uzodimma reiterated his position while addressing the congregation of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Uzoagba, Ikeduru Local Government Area, LGA, during the Episcopal Reception Mass of the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe.
Similarly, the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, Chief Cosmas Iwu, in a statement not longer, said the Governor urged Imo workers to bear with him on the consequential adjustment to the new wage, in view of the prevailing economic problems.
According to the statement, “The governor is, however, appealing to Imo workers to allow him a little time to effect the necessary consequential differences. The Governor appreciates Imo workers for their unalloyed support to his administration and promised to partner with labour for a better Imo.”
Again, when the Governor was received by his people, he not only repeated his earlier stand, but now promised that his administration would start paying the minimum wage from January 2021.
For Anambra and Kogi states, they have continued to blame their inability to implement the new wage on the economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 pandemic.
Reacting, President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Bola-Audu Innocent, said the states have no reasons not pay and whatever reasons, are not tenable.
He warned that in the New Year, Labour would battle them if they continue to decline implementation of the new minimum wage.
In his words: “It is wicked of them not pay the minimum wage that was signed into law since 2019. They have continued to give one reason or the other which we have told them that those reasons or excuses are not tenable.
“We have advised them to reorder the priorities and do away with frivolous expenses. They have their security votes and others. We are going to battle them in the new year if they continue to decline implementation.
“They have no reason whatsoever for not implementing the new minimum wage. Anambra has no excuse for not implementing because it is not facing any security challenge or others. The same thing is applicable to other states not implementing. By this New Year, we will take on them if they refused to pay,” Innocent added
In FCT, while minimum wage is being implemented for civil service, it is not being implemented for workers in council areas and local government education authorities.
For Bauchi State, minimum wage is being implemented for workers on levels 1 to 6, while those on level 7 and above have left in the cold.
According to reports, while core civil servants in Oyo State are being paid the new minimum wage, non-core civil servants especially the MDAs are reportedly left out.
Similarly, in Plateau State, investigation uncovered that state service workers are being paid the new minimum wage, while local government employees have been left out.
In Ekiti, government has been paying levels 1 to 6 the new minimum wage, while levels7 and above have been ignored.
It is no surprise that Organised Labour in the state is planning to battle the state governments head-on to address the matter.
Recall that President Buhari had on April 18, 2019, signed the National Minimum Wage Act into law repealing the N18,000 NMW Act of 2011.