Minimum wage: States divided over sack of workers

Minimum wage: States divided over sack of workers

The Federal Government has threatened to sack workers if it must pay the N30,000 National Minimum Wage. While some states say they are willing to pay without laying off workers, others say they are waiting for the outcome of the Federal Government’s negotiation with the organised labour. Yet, others are pushing for review of the revenue sharing formula, reports TOBA AGBOOLA.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, stirred the honest nest last week. At a meeting with labour leaders, he announced that the Federal Government would have to lay off workers to meet a wage bill of N580 billion for the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000 demanded by labour.

Ngige, however, explained that the Federal Government was avoiding a situation where it would have to lay off workers, noting that throwing workers into the employment market would add to their burden.

The minister, therefore, pleaded with labour to accept the consequential adjustment from levels 07 to 17, adding that the government had only three months left to implement the new wage.

He stated that the government would not promise labour what it could not pay, noting that no worker deserved to be owed salary.

It will be recalled that the government had told labour unions that it could only pay 9.5 per cent salary raise for employees on grade levels 07 to14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15 to17.

But labour is demanding 30 per cent raise for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 25 per cent for those on grade levels 15 to 17.

However, the Federal Government’s threat to sack workers if it had to pay the minimum wage has been recieved with mixed feeling by state governments. While many states say they are willing to pay without sacking workers, others say they are waiting for the outcome of the Federal Government’s negotiation with the organised labour.

Ogun awaits Fed  Govt/labour resolution

The Ogun State Government, last Friday, said it was not considering sacking workers to pay the new wage. The Dapo Abiodun-led administration said it was only waiting for the Federal Government to conclude negotiations with the organised labour before taking any further action.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said: “We are waiting for the Federal Government to do what it needs to do; we’ll also do what we need to do. This is a federation. Let the Federal Government conclude with the national body, then we’ll take it from there.”

Benue may rationalise workforce

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said he was discussing with the organised labour to downsize  workers in the state to enable him pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

Besides, the governor called for an upward review of the revenue sharing formula to make more money available to states and local governments for greater development.

He said it was no longer feasible for states to cope with development realities and the new national minimum wage using the current revenue sharing formula.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase, said: “I’m discussing with labour on the matter, but beyond that, you will recall that governors are demanding that the revenue sharing formula be reviewed to enable states to have more funds to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage and this is the position of Governor Ortom.”

Ortom stated that states were willing to pay N30,000 but would do better if the revenue sharing formula was reviewed upward.

Imo: no plans to sack workers

The Imo State Government said it had no plans to sack workers to pay the new wage.

According to  the its Commissioner for Information, Hon. Felix Ebiliekwe, such consideration will not arise and has not even been hinted at, either through body language or at the state executive council meetings.

He, however, noted that, earlier in the life of the administration, a committee was set up to look into complaints of employment racketeering from 2015 to date.

He said: “Beyond the recommendations of that committee, Imo State is not considering sacking workers over minimum wage. The committee submitted its report last Wednesday and the governor is studying the recommendation and may arrive at a decision soon. Outside that, Imo is committed to promoting the welfare and job security of civil servants so as to build a very motivated workforce that will deliver value and productivity to the state.”

Ebiliekwe said Imo was committed to rebuilding the state and its people and not to sacking workers.

“If there is any state planning to sack workers in Nigeria in line with the pronouncement of the Federal Government, I can assure you it is not Imo. We place great premium on the welfare and job security of our workforce,” the commissioner said.

‘Delta ’ll not sack workers’

Delta State Government said it would not reduce its workforce to  enable it pay N30,000 minimum wage. The state maintained that workers on its payroll had dropped from 65,000 when Governor Ifeanyi Okowa assumed office in May 29, 2015, to about 47,697.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, in Asaba, the state capital, said the biometric system had fished out ghost workers, absconded workers and those involved in age-falsification, compulsory retire them.

“We inherited the ongoing biometric exercise. It was not designed to witch-hunt anybody. It is to determine the total number of genuine workers on our payroll, fish out ghost workers and pay genuine ones for work done.  Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has no plan to sack any worker as a result of the minimum wage hike. More persons have even been employed into the state’s civil service in recent time,” Aniagwu said.

He urged workers to remain calm and go about their duties for a stronger Delta.

‘Plateau not thinking of sacking workers’

Plateau State Governor and Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Simon Lalong,  said his administration was not thinking of sacking workers to pay the minimum wage.

Lalong, while speaking through Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Macham Simon Makut, recently, said he had repeatedly said he would pay the new minimum wage once negotiations were concluded.

“Governor Simon Lalong has never mentioned anything about sacking workers in the state,” he said.

Lalong was among the first governors to agree to pay the N30,000 new minimum wage after negotiations with labour leaders in the state.

Adamawa: no plans to sack workers

In  Yola, the Adamawa State capital, sacking workers to implement the new minimum wage is not in sight.

Adamawa State Government said it had no plans or intention to lay off civil servants, adding that workers should feel free to go about their duties.

The Director-General (DG), Media and Communications to Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, Solomon Kumanga, said the governor had promised to pay the minimum wage.

According to him, a committee was set up by the governor for the effective implementation of the National Minimum Wage, promising that when the report was submitted, action would be taken to that effect. He called on civil servants to remain calm as none of them would be sacked.

Kano: ready to pay

The Kano State Government is ready to pay the N30,000 minimum wage without retrenching workers.

The Head of Service, Dr Kabiru Shehu, said they would pay the new minimum wage as soon as all discussions were completed. He said there was no basis for retrenchment in Kano because of the new minimum wage.

“We have put out workers’ lists  on the table and analysed them and we equally have several options, but certainly the issue of retrenchment is out of it,” Shehu assured workers.

Kano has the largest workforce in the entire federation of over 200,000 while the state is paying over N9.3 billion wages monthly.

Ekiti: still in discussion with labour

Commissioner for Information in Ekiti State, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua, said Ekiti was yet to take a decision on the matter. He said the state was  in talks with labour unions and whatever came out of the discussion would be made known to the public.

Olumilua said: “In Ekiti State, we have not come up with a resolution on that; we have been speaking with labour unions in the state on the issue and our decision shall be made known to the public.”

Bayelsa: we ’ll pay

The Bayelsa State Government  has agreed to pay the amount agreed upon by the Federal Government.  According to the Special Adviser to Governor Henry Seriake Dickson on Media and Publicity, Dan Alabra, the state government has  promised that Bayelsa State would not sack any worker.

He said: “No, not at all. Bayelsa State Government is not going to sack any staff to pay N30, 000 minimum wage agreed by the Federal Government.”

Oyo: we’re waiting for talks to end

The Oyo State Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said: “The minimum wage is a Federal subject as of now. When discussions are concluded in Abuja, the states can take positions. Not now.”

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