The organised labour in Nigeria is bracing for an industrial war with governors who are not yet ready to play ball with the new minimum wage in the country. For labour, there is no hiding place for governors as far as the new wage deal is concerned.
Already, labour has said that state governments ‘’must’’ be prepared to begin the payment of the new minimum wage of N30,000 immediately or face the wrath of workers.
They have also said that debtor states will not be given any relief.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed into law the new minimum wage after several months of negotiations between the government and labour union leaders.
Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Kaigama, who made the position of labour known in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, said the inability of the state governments to pay salaries was because of mismanagement of resources at their disposal.
According to Kaigama, “the minimum wage is effective from the day that President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law. The law must be respected whether you are in the public or private sector. That a state governor owes salaries is not an excuse not to pay the new minimum wage. They have not paid salaries to their workers because they cannot manage the resources in their possession well.
“They play politics with the resources. Before elections, some of them approached banks and borrowed billions of naira. After elections, they borrowed again to settle part of the outstanding salaries to workers in their states.
“There will be no relief in any form for any state government; they must all pay the new minimum wage. We will pursue it one after the other. We commend states that have come out to say that they are going to pay the new wage. We expect other states to come out and say the same. If they don’t, we will go after them.”
Nigeria Labour Congress General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, in a statement said labour thanked President Buhari for signing the new minimum wage into law while also calling for its immediate implementation.
The tough posturing of labour is coming as some state governments on Sunday explained their revenue profile as workers insisting on the immediate payment of the new wage.
The Ondo State Information Commissioner, Yemi Olowolabi, said the state received an average of N5.00 billion to N6.00 billion as monthly allocation from the Federal Government every month.
“The state government is waiting for the decision of the governors’ forum to decide how the minimum wage would be paid. As soon as the governors’ forum decides on the matter, our governor will act but for now I don’t think the governor has decided on the minimum wage issue”, he said.
In the mean time, the Akwa Ibom State Government under the watch of Governor Udom Emmanuel, has assured the 50,000 workforce that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration will pay the new minimum wage.
The state’s Information and Strategy Commissioner, Charles Udoh, gave this heartwarming assurance in Uyo, the state capital. He said Governor Udom had made a commitment to the labour leaders that he will pay the new minimum wage even before the bill was signed by President Buhari.