Workers across states are anxiously awaiting the implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government last year. While the Federal Government has commenced the payment of the new minimum wage to her workers, the situation at the state level is not so as only few of them are said to have commenced the implementation while others are still in the process of doing so. In some of the states, workers have taken to the streets to protest, while members of the organised labour in some others are threatening to down tools should the government fail to implement the new wage.
Workers in Anambra State have expressed disappointment over what they described as delay in the implementation of the new minimum wage. The workers, who usually received their salaries on or before 26th of every month, are however, worried that they were yet to be paid for January 2020, as at 31st.
According to them, because of Christmas expenditures, they expected to get their salaries earlier, but government was yet to pay them.
The state governor, Willie Obiano, had repeatedly assured workers of the payment of the new minimum wage, starting from January 2020.
The state’s Head of Service, Mr. Harry Udu, in an interview Daily Trust on Sunday said government had concluded negotiations and modalities for payment of the minimum wage in the state, saying the implementation would begin in January. According to him, government and labour leaders in the state dialogued and agreed on the new minimum wage structure, adding that government was working toward achieving the target and does not want to make mistakes.
He said state officials who were not affected by the minimum wage had since received their salaries in line with state’s policy to pay workers on or before 26th of every month.
“You know, government needs to study the new template and consequential adjustment in the payroll. That can take a little time. I believe that very soon everything will be sorted out.
“The cause of the delay is the computation of the new salaries into the payroll system. Government is being careful to avoid mistakes.
“Workers should exercise patience because what is being done is in their own interest,’’ he said.
A release by the state government stated that, “As a result of the recent approval of the new minimum wage and consequential adjustment by Governor Willie Obiano and an agreement with the organised labour on Friday, January 24, efforts are on to ensure that the effective date of January 1, 2020 is implemented.
“A new salary chart has been worked out and is now being imputed in the payroll system. Workers are, therefore, urged to exercise patience as the computations are in their interest.’’
The chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Jerry Nnubia, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday, said they had concluded arrangements with the government. He called on workers to exercise patience with government to fine-tune the computerisation of the new wage into the payroll system.
He said they had negotiated on that and were waiting for the government to implement the agreement. According to him, those between levels one to six will have 100per cent implementation while those above that will be adjusted according to the terms reached at the national level.
When contacted, chairman of the TUC, Ifeanyi Okechukwu said they were waiting to see if government would fulfill its promises on the minimum wage implementation, starting from January 2020.
In Imo State, negotiations for the new minimum wage were cut short following the change of guards in Government House.
On January 14, the Supreme Court sacked the government of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and installed Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But on his maiden visit to the state secretariat last Wednesday, Uzodinma said his government was committed to implementing the new pay structure.
The chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpu, expressed hope that the new government would be committed to its promise. He said the former negotiating committee, with the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Uche Onyeagucha as co-chairman, had submitted its recommendations to the government and it was being considered before the change of guard.
“We will be happy to see that the promise is fulfilled. You know the former committee, co-chaired by Onyeagucha and the chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council (JPSNC), Comrade Aloy Iwuanyanwu, had submitted their report and it was being considered before the change of government
“A new committee has been constituted, with the new SSG, Cosmos Iwu and Iwuanyanwu as co-chairmen. So we are waiting for their response. Hopefully, by next week we will see something tangible as per the full implementation of the agreement reached,” he said.
In Sokoto, government has commenced the implementation of the new wage, but mixed feelings have trailed the consequential adjustment modalities.
Civil servants below grade level 7 enjoyed 100per cent implementation, but for the rest, the increment was in varying percentages.
According to our findings, grade levels 7 to 8 got a 22per cent increment, grade levels 9 to 11 got 17per cent increment; 12 to 14 got 12per cent while grade level 15 and above got nine per cent increment.
This is against the requirement of labour unions who had suggested 23.2per cent for grade level 7; 18per cent for grade level eight; 17per cent for grade level 9; 14per cent for grade level 10 to14 and 12per cent for 15 to16.
However, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that some workers have not been receiving their salaries since the commencement of staff audit in September last year while others were underpaid.
It was also gathered that there were workers who did not get the new salary and even the old ones were reviewed downward due to some problems.
“Most of the senior members of staff are yet to receive their salaries as at this Friday morning, and no reason was given for the delay. I learnt that there were some junior staff who did not get the new salary, and even the old ones who received were not 100 per cent complete,’’ one of the affected civil servants said.
Some workers, however, expressed gratitude to the state government for the new wages.
“I don’t know how to express my feeling. I am very happy because of the over N10,000 increment in my salary. This is very commendable. I thank Governor Tambuwal and our labour leaders for this uncommon gesture,’’ one of the beneficiaries said.
The state chairman of the NLC, Dr. Aminu Umar Ahmed, also said they were satisfied with the implementation despite some hitches.
According to him, a seven-man committee was set up to ensure the implementation and address all complaints. He said the implementation was in line with their agreement with the state government, as they realized that their own recommendation would not be feasible in view of the financial position of the state.
Ahmed, however, asked for an immediate stop to the education levy being deducted from workers’ salaries as the three-year period agreed upon had elapsed.
“They should stop the deduction of education levy forthwith and use their budget to complete whatever project being executed with the fund,’’ he said
He also cautioned the state government against introducing taxes that would make the increment useless.
It would be recalled that the Committee on Minimum Wage and Consequential Adjustment, while submitting its report to the state government, said an additional N324.8 million was required for the new salaries and wage structures in the state.
“With this proposal, the state wage bill will shoot to almost N2.5 billion, in addition to N97 million for special assistants, and N139m special allowances every month,’’ the chairman of the committee, Alhaji Muhammadu Namadina Abdurrahman had said.
To sustain the new salary structure, the committee recommended a more realistic assessment of staff by a special committee to squarely address all areas of concern.
The committee also recommended, among other things, the decentralisation of payment of salaries by way of re-establishing salary units in ministries, departments and agencies. It also advised that unauthorised study leave or those who might have left the service but whose names still exist on payrolls should be identified and struck off forthwith.
They called for an immediate staff audit, especially in local government councils and Teachers Service and Primary Education Board to fish out non-existing staff.
They also recommended that revenue-generating organisations belonging to the state should be sub-let on fixed reasonable monthly revenue in favour of the government.
Workers on the employment of the Lagos State Government have been enjoying the new minimum wage since November last year. This was confirmed by some of the workers contacted from different ministries.
After an agreement reached with the Lagos State Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC), the state government agreed to commence the payment of N35,000 new minimum wage.
On January 3, 2020, government signed an agreement with the JPSNC on the method of implementation and consequential adjustments.
The state Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, commissioner for establishment, training and pensions, Ajibola Ponnle and the permanent secretary in the Office of Establishments and Training, Biodun Bamgboye, were present at the signing of the agreement.
Labour was represented by members of the 17 trade unions, the chairman of the Joint Negotiation Council (JNC), Comrade Falade Razak; the chairman, Lagos chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sessi Agnes, and the chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Ekundayo Gbenga.
According to the agreement, “Further to the approval of the Lagos State Executive Council and meetings held between the Lagos State Government and Labour unions, the parties have agreed to the consequential increase of the minimum wage in the following manner: Grade Level 01-06 – N35,000; GL 07 – 30per cent; GL 08-10 – 25per cent; GL 12-14 – 22,5 per cent and GL 15-17 – 20per cent.
“The percentage and consequential increase of the minimum wage in the health sector is: GL 01-06 – 100per cent; GL 07 – 23.2per cent; GL 08-14 –16per cent and GL 15-17 – 10.5per cent.”
The negotiating parties agreed that three months arrears should be paid, effective in February, March and April, while the new minimum wage and consequential adjustment are subject to further incremental review and negotiation. Such review shall commence three years after the agreement becomes effective.
The Head of Service assured the various union leaders that the state government would not go against the implementation of provisions in the agreement. He said government expected the workforce to justify the new minimum wage by ensuring increased productivity and efficient service delivery.
Chairman of the JNC appealed to government to invest in capacity development of the workforce for better productivity, noting that the dividend of the increment will become visible in the workers’ output and contributions to the overall development of the state.
The chairperson of the Lagos State chapter of the NLC further called for the review of pension benefits of retired officials from the state public service.
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