By Gbenga Ariyibi
ADO-EKITI—Ekiti State Government and the public servants in the employment of state government are set on collision course as the workers have vowed not to accept anything less than the N18,000 recently approved as minimum wage by the Council of State.
The State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had on Sunday said his administration would not be able to pay the N18,000 minimum wage, saying the finances of the state was not buoyant enough to pay for the new wage.
But the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Joseph Arogundade, condemned the statement credited to the governor on the payment of the wage, noting that the statement could best be described as political that is meant for politician
The NLC chairman who observed that it was too early in the life of Fayemi’s government to say that his government would not be able to pay the new minimum wage even when the National Assembly is yet to pass it into law.
His words, “we are asking for what is commensurate with the service that we render. We are not borrowing money from the government or asking for a favour and if the payment for the service we render is very difficult to come by, there is need for government to pay what is commensurate to workers.”
According to the NLC boss, labour had initially proposed the payment of N52,000 as minimum wage but was brought down to N18,000 because of some states that might not be able to pay the wage.
“So labour is so much considerate about this new minimum wage. We want to call on the governor of Ekiti State who is also an activist, whom all workers of Ekiti state love to look for money by whatever means possible to as soon as the new minimum wage is approved to ensure that it pays it.”
“Even though the N18,000 has not yet been approved by the joint sitting of the National Assembly, one would have advised that Mr. Governor could have called on labour to join hands with the state government to appeal to the federal government for states that cannot pay the new wage with a view to jerking up the state allocation to be able to accommodate the new payment.”
Arogundade said Fayemi ought to have pleaded with the federal government to increase the allocation of states rather than concluding that the state government would not be able to pay,lauding the relative industrial cordiality that is existing between workers and the present state governor.
The NLC chairman noted that the leadership of the labour in the state had intimated the state government through the Head of Service, Mr. Femi Adewumi , to express workers’ disappointment adding that “ we are also expecting him to pay more than N20,000.”
He further argued that Ekiti had no excuse to decline the payment of N18,000 as minimum wage if a smaller state such as Bayelsa could pay the new wage.