Labour unions in Kwara State have given the state government a 14-day ultimatum from Monday, September 28, 2020, to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage or face an industrial action.
The unions made this known on Monday in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Issa Ore; acting Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Ezekiel Adegoke; and Chairman, state Joint Negotiating Council, Saliu Suleiman.
The statement said, “We observed that the state government, after conclusion of negotiation on the new minimum wage, has refused to sign the agreement for immediate implementation to all categories of workers of this state despite our several letters to this effect, which were not properly responded to by the state government.
“Having critically analysed the economic implication of the present situation on the agreed minimum wage, we therefore demand the immediate signing and implementation of the already agreed minimum wage for all categories of workers of the state, including an upward review of the negotiated minimum wage by 50 per cent for Kwara workers.
“We note with dismay the directive of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to the Ministry of Finance to stop deduction and remittance of union check-off dues and other third-party deductions to the concerned unions and associations in the state, whereas deduction of check-off dues is a statutory obligation of every employer of labour where union operates.”
The organised labour unions urged the governor to reverse the directive and start remitting to all concerned industrial unions and associations without further delay.
They also called on Governor AbdulRazaq to pay hazard allowance to the state health workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19, while cautioning him not to cause salary disparity among workers in the health sectors in the state and local governments.
The government, in its reaction, urged the workers not to embark on any industrial action, adding that it had hitherto enjoyed a cordial relationship with the unions in the state.
The government’s position was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye.
He said, “First and foremost, the Kwara State Government and labour unions have enjoyed a very cordial relationship for the past one year. That relationship has been based on mutual understanding and mutual show of good faith, and to that extent, I want to say that negotiations are ongoing and both sides are showing good faith. That fine relationship will continue and I can assure you that there will not be any need for the unions to proceed on any industrial action.
“We commend them for their patience and for their understanding. Like I said, negotiations are ongoing and there may not be any need for a strike, because the two sides are showing mutual understanding. We’re showing good faith as a government, as we also commend labour unions in the state and the entire workforce in the state.
“Very soon there will be some pronouncements on the minimum wage.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Gombe State chapter of the NLC, Mohammed Adamu, has urged the government to revert to the suspended N30,000 minimum wage for the least paid worker in the state.
Gombe is one of the states that implemented the newly-approved minimum wage, but it was suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic although workers in the 11 local government areas of the state where not factored in the wage increase before it suspension.
Adamu made the request on Sunday during a press briefing at the Labour House in Gombe.
He stated, “Of course, there are challenges. As you are aware, the N30,000 minimum wage in Gombe State has been withdrawn because of dwindling resources accruing to the government as a result of COVID-19.
“However, we are aware that the situation is improving and we have started making contact with the government to see that the minimum wage is brought back to the limelight.”
Adamu added that the organised labour was working assiduously to alleviate the suffering of private sector employees in cushioning the effects of the COVID-19.
“This is particularly so for workers in the private sector, because they are the worst affected. Already, many workers are losing their jobs because of the economic downturn.
“Businesses are closing, the manufacturing companies are going down, because of the high cost of energy, and the NLC is intensifying its campaign to see that there are no more job losses.”