Organised Labour has issued a two-week deadline to governors to commence negotiations on the N35,000 wage award for workers in their states in line with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Federal Government, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
The state chapters of the NLC and TUC, which handed down the ultimatum on Tuesday, said they had written to the governors to fast-track the necessary protocols and implement the award meant to assuage the subsidy removal pains.
The unions pointed out that the deadline for payment of the wage award would expire in the next two weeks, and they asked the governors to begin the implementation process.
This came as President Bola Tinubu Tuesday inaugurated the N1tn cash transfer programme to 15 million households to cushion the economic shocks of the fuel subsidy.
Each household will receive N25,000 for three months. With 15 million households getting N25,000 each for three months, about N1.13tn will be spent on the programme.
At the event, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, said about 61 million Nigerians would benefit from the cash transfer.
The national leadership of the NLC and TUC had on October 1 reached an agreement with the FG to pay N35,000 to all federal workers beginning from September, pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.
The resolution provided that the wage award would be paid to the federal workers for six months while states were encouraged to extend the same benefit to their workers.
Recall that Labour had threatened to declare a nationwide strike on October 3 but the move was suspended with the caveat that the wage award, cash transfer, and some other resolutions must be implemented within 30 days effective from the day the MoU was signed.
The Kano State NLC Chairman, Kabiru Inuwa, revealed he had written to the state government to demand the immediate implementation of the N35,000 wage award in the state.
“We have written to the government requesting for the payment of the wage award to workers in the state and we are still waiting for the government to respond,” Inuwa said, noting that the deadline given by the NLC to the federal and state governments to implement the wage award and other welfare packages for the workers would soon expire.
He expressed the hope that the state government would pay the wage award before the expiration of the deadline.
“The ultimatum given to both state and federal governments will expire by the end of this month, so we hope the government will start the payment before the end of the deadline,” Inuwa said.
On his part, the Gombe State NLC Secretary, Ibrahim Fika, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the 30-day ultimatum, which is now remaining two weeks, applied to workers in state governments. He said, “The ultimatum says the state councils should negotiate with the state government. So it applies to us.’’
In Rivers State, the TUC said it would fully comply and implement the ultimatum given to the Federal Government by organised labour.
The state TUC Chairman, Ikechukwu Onyefuru, stated this while speaking with our correspondent in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
He stated, “State unions are subject to national directives and the 30-day ultimatum was issued by the national body to the Federal Government and directed all state chapters to also issue demands to their respective state governments and implement the same.
“This means that if any state peradventure decides to jettison that directive, such a state is already in breach of the national directive.
“So what I am saying is that it is a national directive, and the respective states have been served and it is expected that they will respond.’’
The Chairmen of the NLC and TUC in Benue State, Terungwa Igbe and Gideon Akaa, disclosed that they had written to the state governor on the wage award for workers.
Speaking separately to our correspondent, Igbe and Akaa explained that the state government had yet to respond to their letter.
Igbe said, “The union has written to the state government about the wage award, and we asked for N35,000. But we have yet to receive a response from the government. Well, I cannot say for now what we will do if the government fails to pay; it all depends on their response.’’
Responding to inquiries from The PUNCH, Aka said, “The two unions, NLC and TUC, wrote a joint letter to the governor that they should implement the N35,000 wage award to Benue workers of both the state and local government areas last week.’’
He expressed optimism that the state would implement the wage award.
Asked about the union’s next steps if the governor failed to respond, Aka noted, “Let us not pre-empt them because the adviser to the governor on Labour promised to talk to the governor so we can have an interface.’’
In Sokoto, the state chapter of the NLC disclosed that it had opened discussions with the state government over the package.
The secretary of the union, Hamisu Yanduna, explained that the leadership of the NLC in the state was expected to hold a meeting with the governor any time this week.
Similarly, in Ogun, Labour has commenced negotiations on the payment of the wage award with the state government.
Speaking with our correspondent on Monday, the TUC Chairman, Akeem Lasisi, said, “Even when other state governments have folded their arms waiting for the outcome of the national engagement with organised labour, the Ogun State Government invited us four days after the removal of the subsidy to have common fronts on how to cushion the effect.
“The outcome of the engagement is the release of a 14-item palliative measure, among which is the payment of N10,000 in the first instance for the first three months of July, August, and September, which we are sure would be increased from October.’’
Speaking further, he stated, “By the agreement with the Federal Government, Ogun State Government has also commenced, among others, the payment of 40 per cent of the basic salary as palliatives to cushion the effect of removing the subsidy.
“Already, we have written a letter to the government on the need to review the wage award given to workers in the state, and we have also met with the Head of Service and the Accountant-General to inform them of the readiness of the Labour leaders to discuss with government and we hope for the best.’’
The state NLC Chairman, Hameed Ademola, confirmed that the unions would soon meet with the governor on the implementation of their demands.
“Yes, we have written to the state government on this component of the salary review agreement, calling for the implementation of this component. The letter has been dispatched.
“We have followed it up with a visit to the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Talabi Tokunbo, last Friday and we have been assured that the letter is on the table of Mr Governor. We hope we shall meet the governor this week and iron out other issues besides the salary increment.”
The labour unions in Katsina State said they were also expecting the government’s response to their demand for a meeting with Governor Dikko Radda to discuss the welfare of the workers in the state.
Giving an update on their request, the state TUC Chairman, Muntari Ruma, said, “Yes, we have written to the state government and anytime from now, we will be invited. So, it is better to wait until we have the meeting before discussing the issue further.”
The NLC Chairman, Husseini Hamisu, affirmed that the unions would demand a comprehensive welfare package from the governor.
“We have written to the state government and I am quite sure that before the week runs out, there will likely be a meeting. We are discussing a comprehensive package and not only the wage issue. We shall keep you posted,’’ he added.
Further findings showed that the state government may constitute a committee to address Labour’s demands.
Credible sources revealed that the committee might be constituted anytime from now.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.