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May 2, 2024

May Day: Governors promise better working conditions, pay rise for workers

May Day: Governors promise better working conditions, pay rise for workers

•As CAN, Labour leaders, and others tasks govt on living wage

By Our reporters

GOVERNORS, yesterday, commended workers on their resilience and promised to prioritise their welfare and ensure better working conditions including a pay rise.

They spoke at May Day rallies held across the nation

The governors spoke as the Labour leaders, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and other stakeholders urged the government and other employers to prioritize workers’ welfare and address their numerous challenges.

I’ll pay new minimum wage to Lagos workers-Sanwo-Olu

In Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, assured workers in the State that his administration would implement a new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government.

Sanwo-Olu committed in response to the demands of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congres, TUC, during the Workers’ Day celebration held at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos.

The Governor, while speaking on the current fuel scarcity, advised Lagos residents against panic buying and storage of petrol, saying the Federal Government and the major stakeholders in the oil sector were working round the clock to address the problem.

He said he has received assurances from the authorities that there is enough fuel at tank stations, and the distribution of the product will be intensified to ease the current fuel scarcity across the country.

Sanwo-Olu promised to look at some of the demands of various unions in the state, saying that his administration would continue to ensure good welfare packages for all the workers in the state.

He praised all the committed, dedicated, resilient, and passionate workers in Lagos State for their contributions across all sectors in building and shaping the state, even in the face of challenges, saying “this year’s theme, ‘People First,’ resonates deeply with our administration’s philosophy, which is underpinned by our firm belief in prioritizing the welfare of our people.”

Speaking on his administration’s commitment to workers’ welfare, Sanwo-Olu said: “As we look towards the future, I want to reaffirm our commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable society in which the interests of workers receive the attention it deserves.

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“We will continue to invest in education, training, and skills development to equip our workforce with the tools they need to succeed in their places of work because we recognize the vital role that workers play in driving progress and prosperity in our society. And we pledge to build a future where every worker is respected, empowered and able to live with dignity and pride.”

In their respective speeches, the Chairperson of NLC, Lagos State Council, Comrade Agnes Funmi Sessi and her TUC counterpart, Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo, praised Governor Sanwo-Olu for making workers’ welfare a priority of his administration.

They urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to implement the agreed minimum wage, expected to be announced by the Federal Government.

l’ll make workers welfare priority, promote industrial peace- Aiyedatiwa

Ondo State Governor, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, said his administration would continue to promote industrial peace and operate open and transparent governance, adding that he would make the welfare of workers a major priority of his administration.

Speaking at the Worker’s Day celebration in Akure, the state capital, the governor said in “demonstration of our commitment to the welfare of workers in the State, our administration is giving priority attention to the regular payment of salaries and pensions, steady payment of gratuity and payment of backlog of salaries, regular promotion of workers with financial backing is being prioritized. The promotion exercise for the current year is ongoing.”

Stating that he is fully implementing the workers’ Contributory Health Insurance Scheme, ORANGHIS, he said: “Our administration is also considering the inclusion of pensioners in the Scheme; Monthly commitment of N200million for steady payment of inherited arrears of gratuities in addition to the special provision of over N1.2billion to clear arrears of gratuities up to 2014.”

Aiyedatiwa at the event, announced the appointment of a former President of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Bola Taiwo, as his Special Adviser on Union Matters.

Gov Alia promises continuous prioritisation of workers’ welfare

Speaking in like manner, Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State, in a message by his Chief Press Secretary, Tersoo Kula, commended Benue workers’ immense contributions to the overall development of the state.

The Governor said his administration was already working in line with the theme of the 2024 Labour Day, “Ensuring Safety and Health at Work in a Changing Climate.”

He stressed that he was on the same page with the workers “having renovated the State Secretariat and also provided a dedicated 33KVA transformer to enable the workers have a healthy and conducive environment to operate.”

Uba launches N500m revolving loan scheme for Kaduna workers

In Kaduna, Governor Uba Sani flagged off the implementation of N500 million revolving loans for civil servants to mark the 2024 May Day Celebration in the state.

Speaking to the workers at Murtala Mohammed Square, the Governor symbolically presented dummy loan cheques to some of the workers, saying economic empowerment initiatives will soon be unfolded for workers in the State.

He told the labour unions that Kaduna state Government under his leadership would continue to prioritize workers’ welfare and equip them appropriately within available resources because “a committed and motivated workforce is critical to the achievement of our administration’s Rural Transformation Agenda.”

Otu announces N40,000 minimum wage in Cross River

On his part, Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State announced a new minimum wage of N40,000 for the state workers, saying that the new wage implementation aligns with the realities of the time in the state rather than sentiments.

“Owing to the peculiarity of Cross River State regarding its lean finances occasioned by low Statutory Federal Allocation and aggravated by the unfavourable State GDP to Debt servicing ratio, the new wage implementation is in line with the realities of the time rather than sentiments,” he said at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar, where he joined the Workers Day celebration.

Governor Otu disclosed that under his administration, payment of salaries and pension entitlement remains a first-line charge.

On the backlog of gratuity in the state, which dates back to 2014, the Governor appealed for patience, saying: “Government is presently on the verge of concluding necessary arrangements for the staggered payment of outstanding gratuity to its retired workers.”

Idris to recruit 2000 teachers in Kebbi

In Kebbi State, Governor Nasir Idris, pledged to recruit 2000 teachers in line with his drive to boost education in the state.

He pledged Haliru Abdu Stadium in Birnin Kebbi to mark the 2024 Workers Day.

As part of his efforts to improve and uphold the dignity of civil servants, he said his administration has abolished casual work by converting over 3000 casual workers across the state into permanent and pensionable staff.

On the new minimum wage, the governor said a committee comprising the organised labour and the head of service will work out a sustainable minimum wage for Kebbi workers.

Earlier, Kebbi State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Murtala Usman thanked the governor for paying leave grants and gratuities to retired civil servants.

He requested the governor to make good his pledge of being the first governor to pay the new minimum wage when announced by the Federal Government.

Soludo’s absence dashes workers’ hope in Anambra

In Anambra, the absence of Governor Chukwuma Soludo at this year’s May Day celebration dashed the hope of the workers who expected pronouncement on the new minimum wage and other welfare packages for them.

Some of the workers raised their voices, complaining openly when it became obvious that the governor was not going to attend the ceremony, with some of the labour unions refusing to participate in the ceremonial march past.

The governor was represented by his deputy, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim at the ceremony which took place at Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka and he had a tough time calming the workers down with the assurance that Governor Soludo loves them and would do everything possible to improve their welfare.

The state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Humphrey Nwator had, in his address, listed some of the problems facing the workers, including the problematic contributory pensions scheme, the absence of the Civil Service Commission which had been responsible for the non-employment of workers, and the stoppage of the N12,000 monthly wage award which lasted only from September to December 2023.

Ibezim, however, assured the workers that Governor Soludo would look into the problems in addition to providing good governance for the generality of the people.

Fuel scarcity is beyond my control – Oyebanji, Ekiti gov

Addressing workers in Ekiti, during the May Day 2024 celebration held at Ekiti Parapo pavilion, Ado-Ekiti, Governor Biodun Oyebanji said that the fuel scarcity rocking the state and nationwide is beyond his control.

Speaking with journalists after the programme themed: “People First”, Oyebanji said his administration has intensified efforts to ensure that the premium motor spirit popularly known as petrol is supplied to Ekiti soon.

According to him, “I sympathize with the good people of Ekiti, it’s actually beyond our control and we are doing everything humanly possible to take the product to the state but the message we got this morning is that the product is not available in the country and they will start lifting by tomorrow. In the next few days, I expect this to ease. I will just appeal to them to be patient and to be calm.”

Earlier, the leadership of NLC and TUC in their speeches appealed to the state government to reinstate sacked workers of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, EKSU.

Diri raises 5-man minimum wage committee in Bayelsa

To improve workers’ welfare in Bayelsa, Governor Douye Diri has set up a five-man committee headed by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Professor Nimibofa Ayawei to look into the possibility of domiciling the Federal Government minimum wage in the state.

Governor Diri, who disclosed this while addressing workers in his May Day Speech at the Peace Park, Yenagoa, the state capital, said Bayelsa State workers have been receiving salaries and wages that are at par with workers in the federal civil service.

Abia to pay, backdate implementation of new minimum wage-Gov Otti

In Abia, Governor Alex Otti, assured Abia workers that his administration would not only implement but backdate and pay arrears of the new minimum wage once the committee set up by the Federal Government decided on it.

Otti, who gave the assurance while addressing workers Wednesday during Workers’ Day celebration at the Township Stadium Umuahia, said his administration would continue to prioritize the welfare of workers in the state.

“We are still studying the announcement by the Federal Government on this. We shall take the lead in its implementation. We shall not only implement but backdate and pay the arrears once it’s agreed upon”, Otti assured.

Gov. Otti, who described workers as agents of development and transformation, thanked Abia workers for their sacrifices as his “Government strives to rebuild the state from the ruins of the past.”

Otti said that his recent decision to defray the backlog of pension arrears owed retirees by his predecessors was a demonstration of his regard for workers, and declared that never again would the welfare of Abia workers be an afterthought.”

On the payment of wage award, Otti promised to look into it and take action very soon, a promise, that however did not seem to go down well with the workers as they demanded a definite statement from the governor.

He said: “I am not unaware of the challenges that we all are facing as workers and the demand for increase in minimum wage and we have been waiting patiently to hear from the committee set up by the federal government that also included the chairman of the Governor’s Forum but having heard from the Federal Government, I hereby set up a committee of the Head of Service, Commissioner of Finance,  the Chief of Staff, Government House, the Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity to be headed by the Secretary of the Government, SSG, to immediately look into what the Federal Government has done and see the possibility of domiciling it in Bayelsa State.”

In their joint address, the leadership of NLC and TUC called on the state to recall primary school teachers that were unjustly sacked in 2016 by the previous administration.

Delta’ll continue to prioritise welfare of workers – Oborevwori

To Delta workers, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori said his administration would continue to prioritise their welfare and set up a committee to look into their demand for salary increase in view of the current hardship in the country.

Speaking at Asaba during the 2024 Workers’ Day celebration, Oborevwori noted that this year’s Workers Day celebration came at a very challenging economic climate where the people are battling with high inflation, insecurity and diminishing purchasing power, and saluted the workers for their “patience and perseverance in the face of these very difficult times”.

Thanking the labour force for the industrial harmony that exists in the State, the Governor lauded the leadership of the labour movement for showing character, maturity and understanding in the face of the trying times in the country.

“I have listened attentively to your requests and I have taken note of same; they are, no doubt, legitimate demands and as a responsible government, I will deliberate with my team on how best to address them within the limits of resources available to us” he said.

According to him, “As a government, we have prioritised the welfare of our workforce because it is my belief that a happy and well motivated workforce is not only a catalyst for the growth and industrial development of any society but also the bedrock for extended family setting and communal cohesion.

“This administration has already demonstrated its commitment to the welfare of serving and retired civil servants and we will continue to do so through our policies and actions.

“This, we have exemplified by the payment of salary arrears to the state civil servants and facilitation of N40 billion facility to assist the local governments to pay the backlog of pensions and gratuity to local government workers and primary school teachers.

“However, I have taken note that some persons were omitted in the payment of promotion arrears; it wasn’t the fault of government because I was given the full list and I was told that the amount is N5.6bn and said let it be paid in four tranches and it was paid, but since the NLC Chairman has mentioned it in his speech, I will look into it.”

Earlier, in a joint address delivered by the NLC State Chairman, Comrade Goodluck Ofobruku , on behalf of his TUC counterpart, TUC, Comrade Martin Bolum, urged the Governor to look into the ongoing negotiation on minimum wage.

They thanked the governor for the payment of promotion arrears owed workers to the tune of N5.6 billion and appealed to him to look into those omitted with entitlements, they said, tallied at N800 million.

Enugu workers declare Mbah most worker-friendly gov

The organised labour in Enugu State has commended Governor Peter Mbah for his many achievements to better the well-being of the people and workers of the state, describing him as a “promise keeper” and “the most worker-friendly governor in Nigeria.”

The workers also commended Mbah for his many policies, programmes, and projects, which they said were turning the state around in record time.

This came as Governor Mbah, who spoke through the Deputy Governor,  Ifeanyi Ossai, renewed his commitment to the welfare of the people and workers, restating his resolve to go beyond the immediate palliatives such as wage awards to create wealth, functional systems and institutions that drastically reduce the burdens that currently drain workers’ income.

The workers gave Mbah the commendations through the Chairman of the state TUC, Ben Asogwa, and his NLC, counterpart, Fabian Nwigbo, during the May Day celebration at Okpara Square, Enugu, yesterday.

How we’ll fund N70,000 new minimum-Obaseki

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, has said the N70,000 new minimum wage for workers in the state was within what his administration can afford, noting that the increase became necessary as a result of the current economic realities.

The governor said this while addressing workers during a rally held to mark the May Day celebration at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.

He praised the workers for the harmonious relationship with his administration, noting that the peaceful disposition of the organised labour in the State with the government has led to several achievements for the State Government.

Obaseki said: “Two days ago, I announced that we have raised the minimum wage for Edo workers from N40,000 to N70,000, an increase of over 75 per cent. This is because we know and feel the pains and hardship which most of you experience daily.

“Fuel subsidy has been removed. The exchange rate has more than doubled and food prices have gone almost off the roof and most of you find it difficult to feed yourself and your family.

“We are an empathetic government; we can’t say we do not know and if we know, we can’t sit down without doing anything about it. This is why we say even if it’s a strain on us, we should do what we ought to do to increase the minimum wage for our workers.

“The N70,000 minimum wage is within what we can afford as a State Government. However, should the Federal government decide on a higher minimum wage and make the funds available to States from the savings which have been made from fuel subsidy, the Edo State Government will adjust its minimum wage to that of the Federal Government.”

Organised Labour lauds gov Eno for payment of salaries, gratuities

The organised Labour in Akwa Ibom state commended efforts of the Governor Umo Eno-led administration in the prompt payment of salaries, pensions especially its intervention towards clearing backlog of gratuities owed retired civil servants, local government workers and primary School teachers.

Speaking at the workers day celebration on Wednesday state Chairman of NLC, Comrade Sunny James said Governor Eno has so far demonstrated that he would do more for the workers

“We are in support of your government.  Your prompt payment of salaries and palliatives to Akwa Ibom people is very very commendable”, James said.

James commended the governor for his effort towards clearing backlog of gratuities, James, and appealed  that during subsequent releases for gratuities more money should be allocated to retired Primary School teachers given that they have been neglected for too long with more outstanding to be cleared.

Decent, affordable houses for Kano workers underway-Gov Yusuf

In Kano, Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf said arrangements were in top gear to ensure that workers in the state own decent and affordable houses.

The Governor stated this while addressing workers in the state on the occasion of May Day celebration.

Governor Yusuf who was represented by his Deputy, Comrade Aminu Abdussalam said it has initiated moves to ensure that a reasonable proportion of interested workers desirous of owning decent shelter realize their noble aspirations.

He described the withdrawal of the state from the National housing fund scheme as devastating and a set back to the state.

According to him, “To mitigate the challenge, our administration is engaging with all relevant stakeholders including the organized labour leaders to explore feasible and mutually assuring and beneficial ways and means for workers to own a decent and affordable shelter under the national housing fund scheme.”

Governor Yusuf however reiterated the commitment of the government to the welfare of the workers while appealing for sustained industrial peace and harmony in both the public and private sector of the economy of the state.

Earlier, the Chairman, Kano State chapter o Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa urged the state government to revisit the payment of wage award that was only paid once, backlog of unremitted pension contributions by some organizations totalling N75 billion as of May 2023.

N10,000 salary increase below our expectations, Ebonyi workers to Govt

Ebonyi State workers yesterday told the state government that the N10,000 salary increase given to them was quite below their expectations.

Governor Francis Nwifuru had during his address to the workers announced N10,000 increment to all the workers in the state, promising that once the issue of minimum wage is resolved nationally, Ebonyi State would not be the least to pay.

He announced the immediate recruitment of 1000 teachers, and thanked the workers for their cooperation and assistance toward the progress of his administration and promised to make them happy.

He said that his administration is not owing any pension and gratuity to retirees, adding that those that retired since January this year have all be paid.

Workers’ welfare tops govt agenda – Wike

However, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, said the government is committed to prioritizing workers’ welfare, declaring that “the well-being of Nigerian workers is at the top of our agenda.”

Speaking during the 2024 May Day celebration in Abuja, Wike, who was represented by the Head of Service of the FCT, Atang Udo Samuel, emphasized that the current administration recognizes the invaluable contributions of workers to the nation’s development and is dedicated to protecting their rights and interests.

“Workers are the backbone of our economy, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the necessary support and resources to excel. We are committed to creating a conducive work environment, improving working conditions, and enhancing the overall quality of life for all FCT workers.”

In line with this commitment, the Minister explained that the government has established the FCT Civil Service Commission to promote transparency, accountability, and career progression for FCT administration workers.

CAN demands fair deal for workers, urges govt to act

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has called on the government and employers to prioritize the welfare of workers, urging them to address the numerous challenges faced by the workforce.

In a statement signed by Archbishop Daniel Okoh, President of CAN, the organization demanded a fair deal for workers, emphasizing that they are the backbone of the economy.

“As we celebrate Workers’ Day, we honour the tireless efforts and sacrifices of our workers who serve as the backbone of our economy, keeping our industries, healthcare, education, and communities running smoothly,” Archbishop Okoh said.

However, CAN noted that despite their contributions, many workers struggle to make ends meet due to low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of support.

“Many workers face long working hours, exploitation, and limited access to education and healthcare. We urge the government and employers to put workers’ welfare first and address these issues urgently,” the statement read.

Archbishop Okoh emphasized that workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and it is the responsibility of the government and employers to ensure their well-being.

“As a nation, we must recognize the value of hard work and ensure our workers are treated fairly, with justice and respect. We must strive to create a fairer society where every worker is valued and supported,” he said.

CAN called on the government to implement policies that protect workers’ rights, improve working conditions, and provide a strong safety net for all workers.

“We urge employers to prioritize their employees’ well-being and treat them with dignity and respect. Let us work together to build a Nigeria where every worker is empowered, valued, and treated with the respect they deserve,” the statement added.

With this call to action, CAN has added its voice to the growing demand for better working conditions and fair treatment of workers in Nigeria. As the nation celebrates Workers’ Day, stakeholders hope that the government and employers will heed this call and work towards creating a more equitable and just society for all.

Vanguard News Nigeria