By Victor Young
As the smoke of industrial unrest thickens across the country over non-implementation of the N30,000 new national minimum wage, Organised labour is sending its officials to recalcitrant states ahead of planned show down.
Sunday Vanguard investigation confirmed that about 20 of such states have identified nationwide.
According to Sunday Vanguard’s findings, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is sending its senior officials to the states to prepare ground for the next action as Organised Labour plans to deal with the states individually rather than collective.
General Secretary of NLC, Emma Ugboaja, told Sunday Vanguard that Congress had received situations reports from states on their level of compliance and that NLC had already analyzed the reports.
According to him “We have received the situation reports from our state councils on the level of compliance by each state. We have analyzed the reports. I can tell you that we are going to treat the issue on state-by- state basis. That is to say, we are not going to declare a nationwide strike over the matter as it is.
What we have decided to do based on the situation reports, is to send our team from here (National Secretariat) to the states to among others, find out why negotiations have taken so long, whether the negotiation is genuine or the state government is just playing games. We do not want a situation where the government is deliberately using delay tactics in the name of a so-called negotiation to buy time. But, if the negotiation is genuine, we want to know why the negotiation has taken so long to be completed. In a situation like that, our officials will help to speed up the process to make sure it does not drag beyond this January. If our officials find out that the negotiation is not genuine, we will compel real negotiation. If this is not possible, we will then authorize and declare industrial unrest or strike.
“The governors have no excuse, they have to pay. It is a law. Most of the state governors have not changed. They are still living their ostentatious life style, flying private jets and chattering jets to birthday parties and other ceremonies. They still have and still engaging armies of aides and all manner of assistants. In fact, the activities of the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF; who is also the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, have exposed the antics of the governors. All the while, the man was pretending and impoverishing the workers and other citizens of the state while he was living in affluence.
“During his time, besides underpaying the workers and owing them several arrears of salaries including unpaid pensions, he was busy awarding all manner of benefits to himself. To worsen the situation, he influenced the state lawmakers to enact an outrageous pension law in his favour and paid himself three months pensions in advance in millions of Naira, but refused to pay the state pensioners several arrears of unpaid entitlements.
“So, this time around, we are not going to give them any breathing space to do any of such frivolities. By next week (this week), probably Tuesday or Wednesday, we will send our senior officials to the states that have not concluded negotiations to asses the situation in such states for our next line of action, like I have said earlier.”
Meanwhile, according to situation reports state councils sent to NLC national secretariat, last week, obtained by Sunday Vanguard, Adamawa State concluded negotiation before December 11, 2019 and has commenced Implementation; Bauchi State concluded negotiation on December 31, 2019 and is awaiting Implementation; Borno State concluded negotiation on December 31, 2019, and is awaiting Implementation; Jigawa State concluded negotiation before December 11, 2019 and has commenced implementation; Kaduna State concluded negotiation before December 11, 2019, and has commenced implementation; Kano State concluded negotiation before December 31, 2019 and is awaiting Implementation while it increased minimum wage to N30,300; Katsina State
concluded negotiation before December 31, 2019 and is awaiting implementation; Kebbi State concluded negotiation before December 11, 2019 and commenced implementation and Lagos concluded negotiation before December 11, 2019, and has commenced implementation.
Similarly, Abia State Negotiating team handed over its Report to State Government on January 3, 2020; Organised Labour in Akwa Ibom gave a counter offer to Government on December 31, 2019; Negotiation still going on Anambra State; Bayelsa State resumes negotiation in the first week of January 2020; Benue State is still negotiating; Delta State still Negotiating (The State Government however, Friday announced commencement of implementation effective November and that it would pay arrears of November and December); Ebonyi State still negotiating with Joint Negotiating Council, JNC. State government has presented a table staring from N30,030 for level 1 and inconsistent increases across board.
Also, Edo State is negotiating; Ekiti State is still negotiating; Enugu State is still negotiating. Submitted a report to the technical committee of the salary adjustment negotiation committee for their input and transmission to State Government. Successfully negotiated 13th month; Gombe State is still negotiating ; Imo State hopes of concluding negotiation soon; Kwara State Negotiation committee was inaugurated on December 31, 2019; In Nasarawa State, Labour has sent names of its 13-person negotiation team to state govt. Government claims the number is unwieldy and asked for reduction. To engage govt on this when work resume in January; Niger State is negotiating; Ogun State is negotiating percentage increases; Ondo State hopeful of conclusion in the second week of January 2020; Osun State is negotiating; Oyo State is still negotiating; In Plateau State, Government has presented its table with an initial offer.
The report noted that Rivers State is to finalize negotiation on January 6, 2020; Sokoto State resumed negotiation on January 2, 2020; Yobe State is still negotiating; Zamfara State is still negotiating.
The report added that Cross River is yet to start negotiation smarting from kidnap of state chairman of NLC; Kogi State Labour leaders are in contact with State Governor and Deputy Governor who promised to start negotiation by January 2020; and in Taraba State, Labour has written to the State Government but yet to get a response. JNC transmitted the salary table to the state governor who referred the tables to the Head of Service for advice. Head of Service advised that negotiation should commence but Governor said he was waiting for directive from the Nigeria Governors Forum.