Kwara State Government

…as talks with labour continue today

The Kwara State Government, on Wednesday, insisted that the payment of the proposed minimum wage is not practicable for the local government workers.

Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin, the State Commissioner for Communication, disclosed this in a statement issued in Ilorin, the state capital.

“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 said 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.

Meanwhile the state government 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.

“To be sure, negotiations for the minimum wage continue on Thursday (today). The minimum wage is a law the state government will obey,” she said.

Earlier, the organised labour in the state had asked workers to prepare for industrial action which will commence on Monday, October 12.

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

The labour leaders had on September 28 given the state government 14-day ultimatum to start payment of the new national minimum wage.

Recall that 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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