34 states yet to pay N35,000 wage award – Report

About seven weeks after the Federal Government reached an agreement with the organised Labour on payment of the wage award to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy withdrawal, Kano, Ekiti, and 32 other states have yet to pay the agreed N35,000 grant to their workers.

While the Federal Government had commenced payment of N35,000 to all treasury-funded workers in line with the agreement reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress in October, an investigation by The PUNCH indicated that the state governors were still foot-dragging on the implementation of the resolution.

Our correspondents on Sunday reported that apart from  Oyo and  Enugu states, which negotiated the payment of N25,000 to their workers, Labour leaders in other states said talks were still ongoing on the payment of the wage award.

Officials of other states, who spoke to our correspondents on Sunday, said they were considering the financial implication of the wage award because of the cash crunch in the country.

The Kano State chapter of the NLC expressed dismay over the failure of the state government to pay the wage award and its refusal to speak on the issue.

The union had earlier written to the state government requesting the payment of the wage award but had yet to receive any response from the government.

Speaking with our correspondent, the state NLC Chairman, Kabir Inuwa, said, “You know we have written to the state government requesting for the immediate implementation of the N35,000 wage award. But the government neither commenced the payment nor responded to our letter.”

However, when contacted, the state Commissioner of Information, Halilu Dantiye, said he needed to find out the office the NLC sent the letter to before he could speak on the matter.

In Ekiti State, the NLC Chairman, Kolapo Olatunde, said on Sunday that labour in the state had written to the state government on the N35,000 wage award.

 Olatunde, who said the position of government had been that ‘we should wait and see what obtains in other states,’ expressed the hope that “By the grace of God, before the week runs out, we should know where we are going. The yardstick is N35,000, that is what we have demanded and that is where we stand in Ekiti.”

 The labour leader said, “We have written to the state government, and the state government is of the position that let us see what others are paying. The beautiful aspect of it is that we want to look before we jump so that we will be able to get the best for our people. We don’t want a situation where our people will be short-changed.’’

Acting Osun State NLC chairperson, Modupe Oyedele, revealed that the state workers were expecting the payment of the wage award, adding that the government promised to provide an update on their demand as soon as it took a decision.

She added, “They promised to look into the request and get back to us. We are still expecting them to hear from them.”

 However, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr Kolapo Alimi, in a statement, said, “Government is still in the process of arriving at the appropriate support for workers within the available means of the state so as to avoid the repeat of the financial misadventures that characterized the past.”

The Zamfara State chapter of the NLC said it was negotiating with the state government on how to get the wage award.

The secretary of the union, Abubakar Ahmed, who spoke to The PUNCH, said Governor Dauda Lawal had assured that he would pay the amount as soon as the funds were available.

“The governor assured us that he would pay the amount whenever the funds are available.

 “We had a meeting with him where he told us that he was only waiting for the federation account meeting in Abuja,’’ the labour leader explained.

 The press secretary to the governor, Sulaiman Idris, assured the workers that the Zamfara State government would pay the wage award as soon as possible, adding that, “The governor will pay the amount when the funds are available.

 “I am assuring the workers that Governor Dauda Lawal will be ready to give them all that it takes to make them happy in the discharge of their duties.”

But the organised Labour in Niger State was insisting on a higher wage award due to the spike in the cost of living.

The state NLC Chairman, Idrees Lafene said they were optimistic the government would comply with their demand.

Lafene affirmed that the NLC had already written to the state government and also entered into a negotiation on the issue.

“Yes, we’re still on the negotiation table and we are asking for more, we’re asking for more than N35,000 and the discussion has gone far,’’ he stated.

Asked what would happen should the negotiation fail, Lafene retorted, “You are pre-empting what will happen. Let that happen first.”

The Niger State Commissioner of Information, Binta Mammam, expressed confidence that the state government would pay the award after the state council has deliberated on the demand.

“Niger State has not started paying the N35,000 wage award. His Excellency (the governor) would not hesitate to pay the money after it has been deliberated and approved by the Council,” Mammam said.

In Kebbi State, the workers union revealed that it had commenced a discussion with the state government on the implementation of the wage award.

The chairman of the labour union in the state, Murtala Usman, stated, ‘’We met with the head of service who promised to see the governor but we have not heard from them again.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Ahmed Idris, was positive his principal would reach a favourable agreement with the workers soon.

Also, findings revealed that workers in Anambra State have not received the wage award.

Confirming the situation, a member of the NLC executive in the state, Cecilia Ogor, said, “Workers have not received the N35,000 wage award and there are no indications yet when we will start receiving it as we have not got any signal from the state government.’’

When contacted, the state Commissioner for Budget, Chiamaka Nnake, simply said, “I don’t have the full details as regards the payment of the N35,000 wage award and I need to confirm that. But I know that 10 per cent was added to the salaries of workers across the board in January 2023.

“But I wouldn’t know if the 10 per cent increment has taken care of the wage award until I confirm more details on the matter.”

Checks by our correspondent show that the recent adjustment in wages has not been extended to the workers in Gombe State.

A labour leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of scuttling the ongoing wage adjustment negotiation, said, “(Gombe) government has yet to meet our request. Although we are hopeful that our requests will be met, as we speak nothing has been paid so far aside from the earlier announced N10,000 which is not very significant as the economy bites harder.”

In Ogun State, the labour leaders were anxiously waiting for Governor Dapo Abiodun to invite them for negotiations on the payment of the wage award to the workers and pensioners.

 Akeem Ademola-Benco, the Chairman of NLC in the state, confirmed that the workers had yet to be paid.

The TUC chairman, Akeem Lasisi, however, said that labour was already in talks with the government of the state.

Lasisi said, “You will recall that the Ogun State Government has shown uncommon commitment towards workers and residents of the state by inviting the leadership of the labour four days after the subsidy removal, to have a common front on how to cushion the effects of the hardship, most especially on low-income earners.

 “While other states folded their arms and waited for the Federal Government’s decision, the Ogun State Government had rolled out 14-nugget palliatives to cushion the economic hardship, among which are payment of 40 per cent of the basic salary every month and N10,000 for the first three months of July, August, and September which was later extended for another six months, among others.

 “We have the hope that the government will renew the payment of the N10,000 to meet the economic reality on the ground. No strike for now because all that we have achieved is without banging tables. We are still in talks. It is only when all talks fail that we can think of considering the option of trade dispute.”

Speaking with our correspondent, the NLC secretary in Sokoto State, Hamisu Yanduna, lamented that no meeting had been held over the issue.

“We are still waiting for the response of the governor on when we will have a discussion on the issue.

“We have written a letter to the governor, seeking to have a one-on-one discussion with him and we are still waiting for the response,” he said.

 The governor’s spokesman, Abubakar Bawa, could not be reached for comment.

The NLC Chairman in Delta State, Mr Goodluck Ofobruku, said that the N10,000 pledged by the Delta State Government for three months had been paid.

The expectations of workers in Benue State have equally not been met, according to labour leader, Terungwa Igbe.

“We have not met with the state government”, he said.

Igbe and his TUC counterpart, Gideon Akaa, said that they had written to the state government about the implementation of the MoU between the organised Labour and the Federal Government.

The state Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Michael Oglegba, could not be reached on the phone for comment.

In Borno State, the workers have yet to come to terms with the delay in the payment of the agreed N35,000.

“We submitted a letter on the issue to the governor on Wednesday, November 1 and he complained about a lot of issues, and he pleaded with us to let him contend with them properly before any negotiation on any wage grant,” Yusuf Inuwa, Borno State NLC Chairman, disclosed to The PUNCH.

 Speaking further, he noted, “On our part, we also have too many issues to deal with concerning the workers. For example, we are planning the disbursement of the N2 billion the governor granted us as part of the recently announced fuel subsidy withdrawal palliatives.”

 In a sign of good things to come, the Kwara State government and the labour leaders have met on the payment of the grant.

 Both the NLC and TUC Chairmen, Saheed Olayinka and Tunde Joseph, confirmed the development.

“We met with the representatives of the government last week and they acknowledged that they have received our letters on the awards and the reminder we wrote. They said that they are working on it and that we should give them time and that they are working on it.

 “The head of Service, Mrs Modupe Oluwole assured us that they are working on it and very soon, we will hear from them,’’ Okayinka said.

 Asked how much the workers were expecting from the government, the TUC chairman said, “Oyo state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, who is the Deputy Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has announced N25,000 for his workers, we are not expecting less but we will be happy if our governor can give us N35,000 in this state.’’

The Plateau State Chairman of the NLC, Eugine Manji, disclosed that things were not looking up in the state as the government had yet to pay the grant.

The union has yet to reach any agreement with the state government on the matter.

“The workers have not been paid the N35,000 wage award but as a union, we have made our demands to the government on the payment. We are waiting to meet with the government to finalize discussions on the matter, the NLC chairman said.

The situation was not different in Akwa Ibom where the NLC Chairman, Dominic Abang, said the state had yet to commence the payment of the award.

Abang explained that the state government had earlier agreed to pay N10,000 in September before the resolution on the N35,000 award was reached.

He said, “We sent a memo to the state government on the wage award and the government hasn’t invited us for a meeting to discuss it. But the last time we had a palliative meeting, the government agreed to pay N10,000 as a  wage award to civil servants from September.

“It was after we finished the meeting that the national (government) agreed on N35,000. So, based on that, we sent another memo again to the state government for a review and they have not answered us yet.”

The TUC Chairman in Ondo State, Mr Clement Fatuase, pleaded with the state government not to delay in approving the grant.

He said, “They (government) are yet to pay. You know Oyo has paid N25,000 instead of N35,000; we can’t praise them for that. But we have been trying to dialogue with the state government, and we don’t want that (N25,000); if it is delayed and later paid, it is better than to receive what will not be appreciable. We have met with them and we discovered that they are working on it.”

(Punch)

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