Dec 31 minimum wage negotiation deadline: Oyo, Rivers, Kwara, Gombe, others fail to raise panels
No fewer than eight state governments have yet to constitute committees on the new minimum wage negotiations, two weeks to the deadline labour gave states to conclude talks on the wage increase.
Labour leaders in states such as Ogun, Gombe, Cross River, Rivers, Plateau, Kwara, Anambra and Oyo, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Monday, said they were waiting for their state governments to set up the committees.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on April 18 signed the N30,000 Minimum Wage Bill into law, but negotiations between the Federal Government and labour over the consequential increases in workers' salaries were not concluded until October 18.
Both parties 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.
After the October 18 agreement, the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council directed state labour leaders to begin talks with their state governments.
The JNPSNC, had , on November 6, written state governments and set December 31 as the deadline for conclusion of negotiations.
Ogun workers begin strike on Thursday
In Ogun State, labour on Monday said the state government had not set up the negotiation committee two weeks to the deadline. It, therefore, directed workers to begin a two-day warning strike on Thursday.
Labour stated this in a statement by the Chairman of Trade Union Congress, Olubunmi Fajobi; his counterpart for the NLC, Bankole Emmanuel; the Chairman of the Joint National Congress, Folorunsho Olanrewaju, and the Coordinating Secretary, Adebiyi Olusegun.
The workers said the state government had been foot-dragging on negotiations. They claimed that they had exhausted the laid down procedures before resorting to the warning strike.
The workers accused the government of deliberately ignoring several letters on the need for the constitution of the negotiation committee.
They said, "It is distressing to note that the Ogun State Government has decided to deliberately ignore our letters and various calls for the constitution of the negotiation committee.
"It will interest the general public to note that neither acknowledgement nor invitation was received from the state government. Rather, we are treated with menus of deceits and apparent misinformation."
In the notice of strike action sent to the governor, which was obtained by The PUNCH, the workers threatened to embark on an indefinite strike by January if the government failed to yield to their demand after the warning strike.
Osun workers await state govt
In Osun State, the Chairman of the JNC, Bayo Adejumo, said, "We have sent a letter to the state government. We have passed the directives of national body of joint negotiating council to the government. We are awaiting a response from government."
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Ismail Omipidan, did not respond to enquiries on the matter. He did not pick calls neither did he respond to a text sent to his mobile phone.
Plateau workers still waiting for govt - NLC
Also, the Plateau State chapter of the NLC said it was waiting for the state government to convene a meeting with its leaders.
The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr Eugene Manji, said this in an interview with our correspondent in Jos on Monday.
He said, " We are still waiting for government to call us for a meeting. On our part, we are prepared as we have already set up our own committee that will meet with the government team but nobody has told us anything."
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Dan Manjan, said that government was aware of the December 31 deadline given by labour.
On his part, the Gombe State Secretary NLC, Shuaibu Chiroma, said the union had written a letter to the state government.
Chiroma said the state negotiation committee had not been set up. "If the committee is announced, are we sure we are going to reach the agreement before 31st of December?" he asked.
We're in the dark in Cross River State, says TUC
In Cross River State, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Clarkson Otu, said, "Everything is still in limbo" in the state.
He said he doubted if the December 31 deadline would be feasible in Cross River State as negotiations had not started."
Otu said, "They (government) haven't given a date on when they will meet with labour. We have interacted with them at an unofficial level. The office of the Head of Service was asked to constitute a committee. They said they are working on it. We don't know what is happening."
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, had said the state government was on the same page with labour on the issue of minimum wage.
We are waiting for gov - Kwara NLC
Investigations in Kwara State showed that the state government had yet to establish a negotiation committee on the new minimum wage.
The NLC Deputy Chairman in the state, Alhaji Yusuf Salihu, who confirmed that the governor had yet to constitute a negotiation team, stated that the workers were optimistic that the government would implement the new minimum wage in the state.
All calls to the phone of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, were not picked neither did he respond to a text message sent to him on Monday.
Anambra yet to constitute committee
The Anambra State chapter of the NLC told one of our correspondents that it had written the state government to constitute a committee for the new minimum wage negotiation.
The NLC Chairman in the state, Jerry Nnubia, said labour in the state had constituted its own negotiation committee.
He said, "We have constituted our own committee in that respect and we have written the state government to constitute its own committee so that the negotiation will commence.
"We are still waiting to hear from the government on that. We are hopeful that everything will work well."
We haven't got response – Rivers workers
The Rivers State NLC Chairperson, Mrs Beatrice Itubu, said she had sent a letter to the state government on the need to establish a negotiating committee.
Itubu said, "They (state government) have not set up the negotiation team for the minimum wage. The NLC (at the national level) has already given an ultimatum. Like I said earlier; we have sent a letter to them.
"The SSG called and asked for those who are supposed to be in the committee, which we have told them. But up till now, we have not got any response."
Negotiation yet to start in Sokoto
In Sokoto State,the NLC Chairman, Umar Ahmed, told The PUNCH that the state government had yet to reach out to the union.
He said, "Negotiations on the new minimum wage have not started in Sokoto. We even wrote a letter today, Monday, concerning this to the state government on the urgency the negotiations deserve.
"However, we want to give them the grace of this week till Friday to hear from them. We are hopeful that we would commence negotiations in earnest and be able to beat the December 31 deadline."
The NLC Chairman in Oyo State, Bayo Titilola-Sodo, said that the labour union in the state would meet on Tuesday (today) where workers would deliberate on the content of a letter with which to demand the implementation of the new minimum wage.
The labour leader said, "Although discussion has not started yet, government is auditing the state workforce and this affords us the opportunity to know the amount that is being spent on salaries every month. We shall both consider everything."
We'll soon meet workers - Oyo govt
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Taiwo Adisa, confirmed that a meeting between the labour union in the state and the state government would be held soon.
Benue negotiation committee to be inaugurated this week
Chairman of the NLC in Benue State, Godwin Anyan, said that the union had constituted its committee to meet with the state government.
Anyan said that he had also been informed of the committee set up by government, adding that the negotiation team would be inaugurated before the end of this week.
Ondo, labour unions meeting deadlocked
But a meeting between the Ondo State Government and labour on the new minimum wage was not successful.
The meeting, which was held at the office of the Head of Service of the state, was said to be inconclusive as both parties were said to have disagreed on the consequential adjustments for workers at grade level 7-17.
The government's team was led by the State Head of Service, Mr Dare Aragbaiye, while the labour side included the acting Chairman of the JNC, Mr Ilesanmi Oyesanmi; the Chairman of the NLC, Mr Sunday Adeleye, and the TUC Chairman, Mrs Helen Odofin.
The NLC chairman, Adeleye, confirmed that there was no concrete agreement reached at the meeting . " We didn't reach any agreement at the meeting, but the meeting has been adjourned till tomorrow ( Tuesday), so the negotiation continues," Adeleye stated.
The Chairman of the Enugu State JPSNC, Chukwuma Igbokwe, said the state negotiating council was set up on December 8.
Igbokwe noted that Enugu might be the first state in the South -East to implement the new minimum wage.