N56,000 Minimum Wage Demand Long Overdue – Issa Aremu

minimum wageThe leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress believe that the demand for a new minimum wage of 56,000 Naira by Nigerian workers is long overdue.

Speaking on our breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Vice President of the NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu, said that too many years have passed since salaries were reviewed and 18,000 Naira is no longer realistic for today’s economic realities.

He said that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years and the proposed 56,000 Naira is subject to negotiation.

Matter of the Law

There have been worries that many states are not able to pay an even lower current minimum wage of 18,000 Naira but Mr Aremu says Labour is not unaware of this.

The former NLC President said that it was a matter of right and the law for the Labour Union to demand an increase because its agreement while accepting 18,000 in the year 2010 was that the minimum wage would be reviewed after five years.

He said that the NLC was not ignorant of the situation across the states but that it was necessary to demand the review to avoid too much delay after the due time.

“We don’t want a situation in which we allow the time of review to be too long and then you’re going to have a dramtic review of 100% or 200% as the case may be.

“Don’t forget it was year 2000 that we had the 5,500 minimum wage and we did not review until ten years after. So all the stakeholders; federal government, state governments, organised private sector and labour, agreed that we have to be doing 5-year periodic review,” he explained.

Mr Aremu said that their request should not be seen as strange because it goes along with international standards which sees some countries reviewing their minimum wage annually.

Lack of Will

He insisted further that the current N18,000 minimum wage had become too small over the years as the current situation of the economy has turned the working class to beggers.

“18,000 Naira; you can’t drive this economy with this kind of miserable pay,” he said.

Mr Aremu also argued that some governors’ inability to pay salaries is borne out of the lack of will by the state governors.

“Governors need to know that they are also employers of labour and they must make sure they pay workers that work for them,” he said, adding that there must be a reason why some governors in spite of the claimed difficulties are able to pay their workers.

He explained that many issues that would have empowered the states to take care of their responsibilities have been ignored over the years and a demand like the new minimum wage would ensure that the government does the right thing.

He cited blocking leakages, promoting internally generated revenue as some of the factors that state governments have not taken seriously but which they now must as Labour would insist on the implementation of the salary review.

“Don’t also forget that many of these governors are meeting some of their lousy obligations. Have you heard any of these governors who has not been paid? Some of them are even paying their predecessors.

“So it’s not lack of resources, it is the lack of the will. You have to prioritise your needs and I think the greatest resource Nigeria has, beyond oil and gas, is the human resource.”

Ogun Govt. To Start Paying Salaries With BVN

BVNThe Ogun State Government has said it would commence payment of workers’ salaries with the Bank Verification Number (BVN) starting from April.

The State Government on Friday, said that the plan would allow government have a grip on the number of workers in its pay roll.

The decision was part of the fall-out of a meeting with the state’s labour leaders which was aimed at finding an amicable resolution to some of the contentious issue which led to an industrial action by the state workers.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Governor of the state, Yetunde Onanuga and the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa among others.

While giving the rationale behind the decision, Mr Adeoluwa maintained that the action was not to witch hunt anyone, but attempts to ensure accountability in government finances.

Speaking on behalf of the labour leaders who attended the meeting, the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council, Dare Ilekoya, seized the occasion to demand that membership of cooperative societies be made voluntary by the government.

Deductions from cooperatives is one of the issues in contention by the Labour Unions.

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.Civil servants in Kaduna State have shunned their offices in protest against the new verification exercise introduced by the state government mandating them to indicate if they want to be part of a labour union or not.

In their hundreds, they converged on the state NLC secretariat on Wednesday with representatives of affiliate unions and civil society organisations to hold a mini rally in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.

They condemned what they described as the deliberate attempt by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to enslave them and destabilise unionism in the state public service.

The workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) alleged that most of them had not been paid salaries for about eight months.

Speaking in company of the TUC President, Bobbi Kaigama, and a rights activist, Festus Okoye; the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that one of the columns in the form required workers to indicate whether they wanted to belong to a union or not.

He added that the new directive was strange to them.

“It contravenes the labour laws concerning to employees/employers condition of service,” he said.

Also at the rally was the former NLC Vice President, Issa Aremu, who said that the organised labour would use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that the new policy does not stand, maintaining that the governor had no right to meddle into labour affairs.

Reacting to the protest, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Finance, Suleiman Kwari, said that the exercise was aimed at ascertaining the true number of its workforce and not targeted to destabilise the unions.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with the government asking the workers to indicate if they wanted to belong to a union or not since it was optional to do so.

The commissioner also disclosed that those who were being owed salaries had issues with their documentation.

The Kaduna State has given the workers till Monday, March 28, to fill and return the forms and has vowed to apply sanctions against defaulters.

Imo Govt., Labour Union Disagree Over Acknowledgement, Endorsement Form

PlateauThe Imo State government has reacted to the recent demonstration by workers in the state over a purported directive by the office of the Head of Service mandating workers to fill an acknowledgement and endorsement form before collecting their salary cheques for the months being owed by the state government.

Addressing newsmen at the state secretariat in Owerri the Imo State capital on the matter, the Head of Service in Imo state, Mr Callistus Ekenze, explained that the said form has nothing to do with retrenchment or victimization of workers in the state but an administrative policy by the state government.

He said that it was a simple administrative policy to acknowledge receipt of salary cheques. However, the Nigerian Labour Congress in the state has directed all workers in the state not to accept or sign any document of any guise in the course of receiving their salary cheques.

The state chairman of NLC, Austin Chilakpu, also expressed displeasure over the way and manner the state government is handling the issue of the payment of workers’ salaries, he appealed to the government to lift all impediments to allow all workers get their salaries before Christmas.

Mr Callistus Ekenze explained that the hype accorded by workers in the state on the acknowledgment form is unwarranted, because the government has no intention of punishing any worker, he noted that what is contained in the form is just to remind workers of the public service rules and is an administrative policy by the state government that means no harm to workers in the state.

He added that the Okorocha led administration is committed to improving the welfare of workers in the state and also paying all salaries up to date.

Imo Health Workers Decry Poor Treatment From Government

health workersLabour Union and public servants in Imo State have accused the State government of alleged intimidation and harassment of workers, especially in the health sector.

This allegation is coming after workers of the Imo State Specialist Hospital, Umuguma, in Owerri, the state capital in Southeast Nigeria complained of being forcefully evicted from their offices by members of the State Security Agencies without any prior notice.

Workers in the state argued that the concession policy of the State government was not a bad idea, but should take proper procedures.

They also maintained that all outstanding salaries owing to eight months should be paid, insisting that workers involved should not be sacked.

The Imo State government debunked the allegations stressing that no worker was forcefully evicted, intimidated or harassed, knowing well that the Okorocha led administration is worker-friendly and concerned about the welfare of its people.

The Chairman, Committee on Health Policies to Imo State Government, Dr. Edward Ihejirika, maintained that the concession policy meant well for workers in the state.

He added that the policy was aimed at ensuring that non-productive parastatals in the state is more effective and efficient, so as to generate more revenue for the state.

Mr. Ihejirika further said that he had several meetings with the Chief Medical Director of the hospital about the renovation of the premises.

On the eight-month unpaid salary, he said the process was ongoing, stating that the verification of workers was also ongoing.

Labour Union Plans Protest Against States Owing Salaries

Waba-Ayuba Labour union headThe leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it will lead a protest against states that are unwilling to pay workers’ salaries.

The President of the workers union, Mr Waba Ayuba, told a press conference in Abuja on Saturday that the union could no longer tolerate excuses from state governors on the reasons why workers’ salaries were still not paid.

Mr Ayuba also maintained that the current 18,000 Naira minimum wage, needed an upward review in the face of current economic realities.

“The minimum wage which was approved and agreed through a process of collective bargaining, five years down the line, is also due for review, both legally and morally.

“When we signed that agreement, the exchange rate was hoovering around 140 to 142 Naira to a dollar. Today, we are talking about over 200 Naira to the dollar. Inflation over the past five years, also, has increased,” Mr Ayuba stated.

About two months ago when the issue of non-payment of workers’ salaries came to the fore, about 18 states of the federation were allegedly owing their staff.

Although some states have gone off the list after the Federal Government waded into the matter, the NLC said some states were still unwilling to pay their workers.

But a member of the House of Representatives, Onyemaechi Mrakpor, believes that efforts should be directed at making the industries work rather than focusing on the review of the minimum wage which requires legislatures input.

Although the Federal Government recommended a minimum wage of 18,000 Naira five years ago, not all states have complied with it. This has led to several agitations from workers in the past, but the government is yet to consider an upward review.

Osun State Workers Resume Industrial Action

osun state-NLCWorkers in Osun State have resumed an industrial action they suspended on Monday, as directed by their leadership, to push for full implementation of an agreement reached with the government.

Channels Television’s correspondent reported that a ‎visit to the State High Court and State Specialist Hospital, however, revealed that the offices were opened for work with no workers in sight while the State Government Secretariat, Abeere and schools in the town that were opened on Tuesday were under lock and key.

The Labour Union had on Monday suspended ‎the six-weeks old strike after signing an agreement with the State Government to pay the January and February salaries arrears of workers.

‘Betrayal Of Trust’

Reports from some of the civil servants, who requested that their identity should be withheld, showed that only workers on grade level 1-7 received full January Salary while those on grade level eight and above received half payment, as against the agreement reached.

Labour leaders described the act as ‘betrayal of trust’.

Angered by what  he called a breach of agreement, the State Chairman of ‎the Nigerian Labour congress (NLC), Jacob Adekomi, directed workers to resume the strike.

May Day: Osun, Plateau Workers Seek Payment of Salaries

As workers across the world mark the May Day, it was a different story for workers in Osun and Plateau State, as the usual funfair did not hold due to nonpayment of workers’ salary and emoluments for over five months.

Speaking to Journalists in Osogbo, Osun State capital, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Osun State Chapter, Jacob Adekomi, ascribed the ‎”no celebration” to non payment of salaries to the workforce.

Adekomi said that as long as the workers’ salaries and other emoluments remain unpaid for five months‎, there is no basis for any ceremonial outing.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), Osun State Chapter, gathered some of its members for what it termed as a prayer session in spite of the ”no celebration”.

The union said that although they were also in support of the ‘no pay no celebration’, what is required is prayer to help change the trend of things in the nation, particularly as the nation prepares for a transition.

Plateau State

Instead of the usual May Day celebrations, workers in Plateau state gathered at the Labour House in Jos in a solemn mood as salary and emoluments, including outstanding arrears of minimum wage, non release of promotions to workers, non payment of gratuity and pension to retirees, among other issues are still pending.

The NLC Chairman in the state, Jibrin Bancir, in a press briefing, observed that the singular act of bad governance and inhuman treatment of workers over the years by the outgoing regime have put the workers under trauma.

As the workers were reflecting on the situation at hand, another faction that emanated from the national body gathered at the state office of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), led by Anthony Sule John, to address workers and the issue at the national level of the union.

The TUC, with about 12 affiliates comprising mostly senior association members, gathered at their office to also mark the May Day celebrations, with emphases on the plight of Plateau workers.

Kano: NLC Calls For Consultative Committee

KanoAs workers celebrate May day in Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kano State has called for the establishment of Labour-Government Consultative Committee.

Addressing a news conference to mark the 2015 Workers Day Celebration, the NLC Chairman, Ado Minjibir, said that the major concern of the union has to do with Labour casualisation in the private sector.

For some years now, Workers Day has been observed on a low level because of the challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgency in the northern region.

The theme for this year focuses on reviving the workers’ right, especially those who died during service, as the workers in Kano sent their requests to the state government.

The labour leaders said that they would continue to mount pressure on authorities until their grievances are addressed.

Labour Party Sues For Peace Within NLC

LabourThe Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Labour Party, Comrade Salisu Mohammed, has appealed to all those that contested in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) election, to sheath their swords in order to have a united labour front.

Addressing a news conference  in Abuja on the crisis rocking the NLC in Abuja, Comrade Mohammed said that the party is worried about the division in the labour union over the outcome of the election.

The Chairman of the Labour Party, who denounced the endorsement of any presidential candidate by the Labour Party, added that it was not in the interest of Nigerian workers to have a parallel NLC.

Meanwhile, workers from different unions including; Electricity Workers Union, Nigerian Textile Workers Union and NUPENG are among those opposing the results of the election that declared Ayuba Waba President of the workers’ union.

Lagos Govt. Promises Better Welfare For Teachers

Lagos Comm Olayinka OladunjoyeLagos State Government, mindful of the pivotal role of Education and the critical role of teachers in the development and economic growth of any nation, says it would continue to be responsive to their welfare and that of other members of its workforce.

The State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, said this while briefing newsmen at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, on Thursday.

She disclosed that this conviction of Government has been the driving force behind its huge investment in Education as well as training and welfare of teachers in its quest to become a model of excellence in Education in the African Continent.

She said that in order to provide qualitative education to the citizenry as well as overcome some of the challenges facing the Education sector; the State Government recently employed no fewer than 1,775 new teachers into the system as secondary school teachers.

She reiterated that Government has been doing this in the face of the limited resources available to it against the background of the competing demands for the resources, adding that Lagos remains perhaps the only state that has consistently and doggedly paid its workforce including teachers up to date and when due.

The Commissioner debunked the insinuations in some quarters to the effect that Lagos State teachers were not happy with the Government, restating that one of the hallmarks of the present administration has been its responsiveness and priority attention to the welfare of its workforce.

The Commissioner said teachers in the state are happy “because before now they did not have the kind of empowerment that they have been provided with” adding that with the EKO Education Project, teachers in the State have been empowered and given some level of accountability which is unprecedented in the nation’s Education history.

Assuring of the State Government’s willingness to complete payment of the 27.5 percent Special Teacher’s Allowance, Mrs. Oladunjoye said that Government was working assiduously with a view to paying the balance of the Special Allowance to the teachers.

“Government therefore craves the understanding of its teachers on this, bearing in mind that government will not hesitate to pay the balance of the allowance as soon as possible. Suffice it to say that the State Government is also determined to make the teaching environment and learning process very conducive to enhance efficiency and effectiveness”, the Commissioner said.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, who was also at the briefing, said that the State Government enjoys a robust relationship with the teachers, adding that the Government could not afford to toy with the welfare of such an important player in its Education sector.

The Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, who was also at the briefing, said that while the State Government was not joining issues with any publication, with the advent of new theories in political circles and the possibilities of bandwagon effect, there was a need to put issues in proper perspective.

Later in an interview after the briefing, the State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Mr. Segun Raheem, said that the NUT was not just a labour union but also a professional group which knows how to go about its agitations, stressing that such agitations does not always lead to anger.

He added that from the way the discussion was going along with the Government, there was hope that the State Government would pay the balance of the allowance.

He said that there have been commitments from the State Government on the allowance which has seen the payment of an initial 9.2percent and later another 9 percent with the remaining 11.5 percent being expected.

Raheem said that two months ago, the NUT wrote to the State Government on the balance and that the matter was presented before the Joint Negotiation Council and a pay policy committee was set up with the teachers also invited to present their case, which it did and a subcommittee was set up to look into the financial implication.

The briefing was also attended by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Establishment, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Sade Jaji.

PHCN strike: Talks between FG and labour union postponed

The negotiation between the Federal Government and the employee’s union of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has been postponed till next week Tuesday.

Briefing journalists after a closed door meeting chaired by the Secretary General of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele said the government continues to insist that the labour union is mis-informed.

“Our position on the matter is clear. We are not telling the government not to privatise or carry out the reform it wants to carry out in the power sector. Our position is, for you to do this, the severance package as enshrined in the condition of service is followed to the letter,” Mr Esele said.

“If government does that, then there will be no problem at all,” he added

The labour activist therefore disclosed that a full representation of all parties will meet on 28 August to find a middle ground and iron out the issues once and for all.

Meanwhile, the employees of the PHCN continue to maintain that the Federal Government must pay its workers the 25 percent demanded for their pension before privatizing the power sector.