Labour, Kwara Workers, Union, Minimum wages, Strike, Industrial action, Court, NLC, TUC

Gamji Members Association of Kwara State (GAMA), on Sunday, asked labour unions in the state not to embark on any strike to protest the non-payment of the new national minimum wage by the state government.

The group appealed to the labour leaders in the state to rethink its mobilisation steps for industrial action, warning that such would hurt everyone, including workers themselves.

“While we understand the standpoint of the labour unions especially from the point of view of the rising cost of living, we caution that embarking on an industrial action is not the solution. This is especially true when we consider the fact that the state government’s finances are seriously stretched already,” Alhaji Abdullahi Yinka Agaka, publicity secretary of the pan-northern Nigerian group, said in a statement made available to newsmen.

“Like the state government has been doing, we also appeal to the workers to have a rethink, embrace more talks, and appreciate the fact that the government, whatever its imperfections, has shown good faith in handling workers’ welfare social investments, and infrastructural development, even during COVID-19 when it never stopped paying or cut workers’ salaries like a few states did. Similarly, we call on the government to continue to engage the labour unions since both sides clearly comprise very patriotic elements.

“We appeal to both sides to act according to the realities of the state. A strike action will hurt millions of people. Both sides have a responsibility to not bring unnecessary hardship to the populace. If there is any strike action, both sides will still return to the negotiating table and that clearly explains the futility of letting things get to the point of strike action. We urge the state government to sign the minimum wage law as soon as possible but without resorting to borrowing or paying percentages to workers, as seen in the past. This is why we commend its numerous efforts to reform the system for efficiency.

“Finally, we call on everyone to act very responsibly at this time because partisan sentiments in time of serious state matters would not take us anywhere.”
LABOUR INSISTS ON STRIKE

On Thursday, a meeting between the Kwara state government and organised labour unions failed to hold back the indefinite warning strike called by the unions.

As a result of the deadlock, the workers said the strike will start on Tuesday, October 13 as scheduled.

THE INFORMANT247 earlier reported that the labour leaders had on given the state government 14-day ultimatum to start payment of the new national minimum wage at a press conference in Ilorin on September 28.

The labour leaders rejected another round of workers’ verification and audit by the Government as condition for payment of minimum wage to the workers.

Meanwhile the state government, in a statement by the State Commissioner for Communication, Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin on Wednesday, said staff audit and verification of workers are part of its efforts to reposition the public service in the state and not a precondition for the payment of the minimum wage.

The labour resolution, jointly signed by the state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Aliyu Issa Ore, Ag state Chairman Trade Union Congress (TUC) Ezekiel Adegoke and state Chairman, Joint Negotiating Council (JNC-TUS) Saliu Suleiman, after the meeting on Thursday reads, “The Congress in session agreed to go on with the proposed industrial action if the state government refused to sign and implement the new minimum wage within the 14 days ultimatum given by the labour movement.

“The Congress in session agreed to call for an enlarged SEC meeting in order to sensitize and equip them for the industrial action.

“The Congress in session resolved to mobilise every member from all the affiliate unions towards the commencement of the strike coming up on Tuesday 13th October 2020.

“The leadership of the Labour unions will not call off the industrial strike until our demands are met.

“The leadership of the Labour movement assured workers in the state that they will not betray the confidence repose in us while the strike last.”

NEW MINIMUM WAGE NOT PRACTICABLE FOR LG WORKERS – KWARA GOVT

Part of the statement released by Afolabi-Oshatimehin lastweek Wednesday said the payment of the proposed minimum wage is not practicable for the local government workers.

“The challenge however has been how the Local governments can afford it. At the moment, all the local governments combined earn an average of N2.6bn monthly, including the 10 percent of their share of the IGR. Remarkably, the monthly wage bill of these local governments stands at about N2.5bn. These expenses, it must be stated, are based on the extant N18,000 minimum wage,” the Commissioner stated.

She added that when the new minimum wage is considered, including the consequential adjustments, the wage bill will shoot up to around N3 billion, adding that the earnings of the local governments cannot afford such at this time.

“The government is committed to paying the minimum wage but it is pleading with the labour to accept a more reasonable scale which takes the total wage bill to less than N3bn.
We call for reasonable and practical steps to avoid a situation which will lead to the local government borrowing to pay salaries as was the case before this administration,” she said.

Also, the governor had in March told labour leaders at a consultation meeting in Ilorin, the state capital, that he was ready to sign the deal if he would not be held responsible if the councils default, observing that the councils are at present struggling to pay the N18,000 minimum wage and even had to draw from their savings and IGR before paying February salary.

However, the labour unions unanimously urged him to sign the deal and leave the local government authorities to draw up the modalities to pay, including working with the government to weed out ghost workers, cleanse the payroll, and reduce the wage bill.

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