Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti has attributed the delay in implementation of the new minimum wage for senior civil servants to the spread of the COVID-19 to the state and its negative consequences.
Fayemi said this in Ado Ekiti on Friday in an address to commemorate the 2020 International Workers’ Day.
He explained that the Public Service Joint Negotiation Council was about concluding negotiations on the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage when the effects of the pandemic became manifest in the global, national and state economy.
Fayemi said this had affected the resumption of negotiations, adding that government was optimistic that the battle would be won soon and the world economy would come out of the present recession.
He added that this would enable the state to conclude the process of minimum wage implementation and its consequential adjustment.
The governor also expressed regrets that the same COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for the lack of fanfare during this year’s Workers’ Day celebration.
“It is a global scourge and we are all in it together.
“As a responsible government, we acted decisively including taking the tough decisions of imposing movement restrictions and directing the majority of our workers to stay away from the office with a view to preventing the spread of the virus in our dear state.
“The labour movement in Ekiti State has also been both resilient and responsible in its approach to labour matters.
“There will always be challenges in life and what defines invincibility is the way such problems are tackled and overcome.
“This period may be tough, but we are resilient, strong and courageous, these traits have propelled us to overcome adversities in the past and to thrive as a state,’’ the governor said.
He said inspite of the unfriendly economic situation, the welfare and improved working conditions of workers had continued to be the top priority of his administration in many other ways.
“Salaries, pensions and gratuities are being paid as and when due. I am sure you have received your April 2020 salary and all allowances due to our health workers who are at the frontline of the COVID-19 response have been paid.
“We have continued to pay the N30,000 minimum wage for junior cadre in the public service and have reinstated merit-based appointments to elevate the standards of the public service.
“Official vehicles have been allocated to serving and some retired permanent secretaries, while we have increased our investment in training and capacity building for the public service.
“Also, it is on record that all outstanding promotions as at December 2019 have been addressed across the public service,’’ Fayemi said.
According to the governor, work is also progressing steadily on the abandoned structures at the state secretariat complex to ease the challenge of inadequate office accommodation for workers.
He added that housing and car loans were being granted to workers.
Fayemi urged the labour movement to not only enquire after what workers ccould get from the government, but also what they could contribute to support government in making a difference in the lives of the people.
“No doubt, there will always be agitations and struggles. However, these must be focused on realistic goals, noting that government must balance several competing interests,” he said.
On the new policy of six months maternity leave for women in the public service which took effect from Feb. 1, Fayemi explained that the initiative was aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality rate.
He said that it would also facilitate work-life balance for female workers in the state.
“All of these are geared toward making life and working more comfortable for Ekiti workers,” he said.
While thanking workers for their efforts so far, the governor urged them to do more, especially in the area of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
“All hands must be on deck to boost our IGR to stabilise and free Ekiti State from incessant economic shackles.
“Whatever we do, we must place the interest of Ekiti State above our personal interest,” he said.
Fayemi added that he had accepted the list submitted by the leadership of organised labour with details of those the unions had identified as the most vulnerable members of the various unions.
According to the governor, money has been approved for the vulnerable members made of those who are sick, those involved in serious accidents and those who have become widows and widowers since Jan. 1.
Fayemi said the money was a little contribution of government in commemoration of this year’s May Day.