Fayemi begs workers to shelve minimum wage strike

Fayemi

Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, appealed to workers to shelve their planned nation-wide strike to protest against the non-implementation of the new national minimum wage, saying such action would amount to an effort in futility.

Fayemi, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), made the appeal while speaking with journalists in Lagos. He particularly called on workers to take into consideration, the country’s economic situation before embarking on industrial action.

Organised labour, led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had also yesterday, directed its affiliates nationwide to get set for the strike ahead of the expiration of the October 16 ultimatum issued by the unions for the implementation of the new pay.

But, Fayemi, who sued for peace, said it was not the wish of government for workers to down tools though he maintained that it would be difficult to meet demands of workers on the new wage given the current state of the nation’s economy.

His words: “We don’t want workers to down tools, but you will recall that the governors’ proposal in the course of the tripartite negotiation was N24,500. But, negotiations went back and forth, and we ended up with N30,000 and the governors’ in principle said ‘we will pay.’

“However, in private discussions with the President (Muhammadu Buhari), we made it clear that this is another recipe for a future bailout. To be frank with you, I don’t even consider N30,000 a living wage in today’s Nigeria, but you cannot promise what you don’t have. It is also a fundamental principle of labour relations because you get into trouble if you do that.

“No doubt, we settled for N30,000, but we all agreed to look for ways to boost revenues going to the states, and we are working on that. We are doing reconciliations with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).”

He went on: “We made it clear during the tripartite negotiation that an increase in the national minimum wage is not tantamount to a general wage review.

“The fact that we moved people, who were below N30,000 to N30,000 and wherever they should be on the scale, should not automatically mean that we must increase the salaries of people on Level 17, who are on N400,000. It is a minimum wage law; it is not a general wage law.

“Yes, if you promote levels 05 or 06, they may go over what the current level 07 is earning. So, that calls for consequential adjustment, but that adjustment should not go over levels 08 and 09. The Federal Government has even agreed to do nine per cent for levels 07 to 12 and five per cent for levels 13 and above, but they (labour) said no, and insisted on 45 per cent.

“Where is Nigeria going to find the money? I mean the economy is in doldrums. Whether we openly admit or not, everyone knows. If you have an economy that earmarks N2.4 trillion for debt servicing; then what are we talking about? So, I hope good sense will prevail, and that people will be able to convince labour that it is a futile effort.”

Fayemi, who also spoke on the controversy over the directive by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on local government funds, clarified: As far as we are concerned, the position of the NGF on the issue is the position of the law.”

According to him, “there is no law that has been passed in the country on local government autonomy.”

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