States divided over FG’s N35,000 wage awards to federal workers
By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria
ASABA — States were split yesterday over the agreement the Federal Government reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, on Monday night to pay N35,000 wage award to federal workers to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal.
While some of the states said they would align with the Federal Government’s N35,000 wage award for its workers, others said they had already started paying their workers N10,000, even before the Federal Government award, and would therefore, not be bound by the central government’s move.
Recall that the Federal Government had, in the agreement, accepted to continue payment of the wage award until a new minimum wage is arrived at next year.
In Kwara State, the government said it had already started paying N10,000 wage award to its workers, even before the Federal Government and promised to continue to pay but was silent on its readiness to upscale it to N35,000.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said : “KWSG started awarding extra N10,000 to every civil servant since July, apparently pioneering some sort of cash award.
He said: “This is to support them until a new minimum wage comes on stream. Some other pro-worker measures, including reduction of work days from five to three, have also been implemented in different sectors to strengthen the purchasing power of workers, with positive impacts on the larger economy.
“The government will continue with these measures and more, such as the N10,000 cash award to students of Kwara State origin, to bring more ease to the people.
“The Kwara State government commends the step of the federal government. It is, of course, expected that other states that do not already have such arrangements will follow suit with sustainable amounts that align with their own financial realities.”
In Kebbi State, the government said it would sit with cabinet members soon to determine what wage award to pay to its workers.
Special Adviser to Governor Nasir Idris, on Media and Publicity, Malam Yahya Sarki, said though it is still too early to comment on the issue as the agreement was only signed between the Federal Government and labour on Monday night, the governor, being a former unionist, will approve something substantial for the workers.
He did not, however, state whether the state government will pay up to the N35,000 reached between the Federal Government and Labour.
But in Enugu State, the government agreed to replicate the federal government’s wage award of N35,000 for its workers.
Enugu State Commissioner for Labour and Employment, Chika Ugwuoke, told
subsidy removal palliative measures in the format the Federal Government had designed to alleviate the plight of workers in the state.
Ugwuoke said that the state government had already started with smooth distribution of palliatives provided by the Federal Government.
“Enugu State was very prompt in the distribution of palliatives to our people and this wage award won’t be any different,” Ugwuoke said.
On his part the Enugu State Chairman of NLC, Fabian Nwigbo, said they were part of the team that negotiated wage award which he disclosed was meant for federal, state and local government workers.
“I can only speak for my state which is Enugu and we are confident that the governor here will implement it.’’
In Niger State, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Hajiya Binta Mamman, declared that the state government will not be hasty in taking a decision on what to add to its workers salary, based on the N35,000 increment announced by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The commissioner said the council meeting which would be presided over by Governor Muhammed Umaru Bago, will deliberate on what she described as sensitive issue to arrive at a figure to pay, after reviewing the financial implication for the state.
“The declaration of President Tinubu on the issue was an increment specially for federal civil servants and not for state workers and so far, I have not seen or heard any state government making a declaration on what to pay their workers, except those who had announced an adjustment even before that of the President.
“We are talking of huge amount of money here and when our governor is back, we will all sit down to take a decision at the Council meeting because we have to know what is coming into the coffers of the state and what should be going out to implement this in order not to start what we cannot continue,” she explained.
Binta urged workers to be patient on the issue, adding that a declaration would be made soon.
In Adamawa State, the state government said it was ahead of the Federal Government in the provision of palliatives to cushion effects of the removal of fuel subsidy.
This, government said it had already approved and had started paying N10, 000 across board as transport allowances to all categories of workers in the state.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Deacon Humashi Wounosikoh, told Vanguard that the N 35,000 approved by the federal government will be looked into by the state government.
He noted that a directive on the N35,000 agreement between labour and the federal government is yet to be communicated to the state.
“The moment the directive is received from the Federal Government, Adamawa will sit with labour at our level here to see to its workability,” the CPS said.
In Ondo State, the government assured its workers that it would key into the federal government’s template to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
“Although the agreement is between federal government and labour, but our own state too will have to meet with labour to discuss and agree on what will cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
“The state government will soon be meeting with the labour leadership in a bid to look into the matter appropriately.
“The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, is ready to do whatever is within the limit of the state to assist the workers.
“Our state has even put in place some palliatives, such as free buses for our workers and free shuttle buses for students even before this agreement was reached between federal and the union.
“We want to assure our workers that they would smile after the negotiation with the state labour leaders was finalized.
In Oyo State, the Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Labour Matters, Mr. Titilola Sodo, said: “Oyo State Government will meet with the labour leadership in a collective bargaining process to arrive at a mutually-satisfying package for her employees.”
The state government expressed its desire to key-into the federal government’s measures to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal
source told Vanguard: “What is the rush? The Federal Government only just made a pronouncement, we know the pressures, but it is not a competition that we must react to.
“Accepting or not accepting, declaring whether Akwa Ibom will pay is not the issue. As a state, we are not acting on impulse. Governor Umo Eno, like his counterparts across the country, understands the challenges of workers’ wages against the rising market prices.
“The state will work within the leverages available to do what she can do, working in agreement and understanding with the workers. That does not require that we play to the gallery on the pages of newspapers.
The Rivers State government is yet to make its position known on the new national minimum wage of N35, 000 for workers announced by the Federal Government.
Though the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Boniface Onyedi, neither picked several calls or responded to a text message to his phone by our reporter, a source at Government House who did not want his name in print, said: “It is too early to seek the state government’s reaction to the decision.”
“There are 36 states in Nigeria. How many of them have reacted to the new wage award so far? It is just too early and I am confident that the governor will come up with something the workers will be proud of.”
He expressed confidence that the “state government will work for the overall happiness of workers by looking into their welfare.”
The source explained that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in the state would meet with state and local government workers to intimate them of the latest development, adding that there was need to find out the position of workers on the decision reached between the federal government and organized labour.
In Bayelsa State, a senior government official who pleaded anonymity, said: “It is not a question for us yet. If labour is negotiating with the federal government, states are not negotiating with labour. Remember that states will decide what they want, based on their financial situation.”
In Kano, the state government said it is yet to take a decision on the federal government’s N35,000 wage award.
The Commissioner of Information and Internal Affairs, Baba Halilu Dantiye, said the state is waiting for details of the agreement between the Federal Government and labour.
“We are waiting for the details of the agreement and we will also study it to know the next line of action to take,’’ Dantiye said.