Minimum Wage: ‘We’re Ready for War With You’, Labour Tells Governors Who Can’t Pay to Quit

Organized Labour has said it was ready to go to war with any governor that fails to implement the N30,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustment that follows for workers in their respective states.

Recall that on April 18, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage Act into law. Six months after the signing of the act into law, the Federal Government and organised labour, agreed to 23.2 percent increase for workers on level seven and 20 percent for workers on level eight. In contrast, it decided on 19 percent increase for workers on level nine.

Both the government and organised labour also agreed on 16 percent salary increase for workers on levels 10 to 14 and 14 percent increase for workers on levels 15 to 17.

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Since then, the negotiation shifted to the state level with only five states-Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, Adamawa, and Jigawa commencing the implementation and payment of the new wage.

Other states that are yet to show full commitment had forced labour to issue a December 31 deadline for full implementation, including the consequential adjustments by the remaining states – the deadline which expires on Tuesday.

Speaking on the development, the Secretary-General of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Musa-Lawal Ozigi, said any governor that fails to implement or show commitment before the Tuesday deadline would be deemed to have declared war against labour.

Ozigi added that the organised labour would decide on how to handle recalcitrant state governors who fail to implement the new wage at the end of the December 31 deadline.

“Most states are working hard. Let us see how they go. The deadline does not mean that if it expires, we will take action immediately. It simply means that the grace period is over, and anything can happen thereafter.

“In other words, when you give a deadline or an ultimatum, once it expires, it does not mean you will take action immediately.

“It simply means that the grace period given to the government is over. From that moment, you will not be held for any action.

“On the minimum wage, we are also watching. I can assure you that by the end of next week, if any state governor has not done anything relating to the minimum wage, he has only declared war against labour and we know what to do.

“We are listening to every state to know exactly what is happening so that it will give us the opportunity to prepare for the worst case ahead.

“We know most states have started, especially in the north and south. But by Tuesday, we would have been able to gather our data to know the next line of action.”

He added that even if some states have set up their committee to ensure that within one week they finish, that means they also have that Tuesday (deadline) in mind.

READ: Minimum Wage Circular to Be Ready, Says NLC President Ayuba Wabba

The secretary-general also urged any state governor who cannot pay the new minimum wage to quit, saying it was too late for state governors to use the call for a review for revenue sharing formula as an excuse not to pay the new minimum wage.

“Any governor that feels he can use that (revenue formula) as an excuse to pay is calling for labour action.

“We do not want to pre-empt anybody, but we have told them very clearly it is either you do what is right or stay out of power and let somebody who can do it come there, and we have not changed the position.

“Any governor that is not prepared to pay minimum wage has no business in government.

“That is the basic principle on which we stand, and from Tuesday, you will see reaction.

“But I can assure you it will not be immediate because we need to go back to our people (labour leaders) to decide what kind of plan we are going to use to deal with that kind of governor.”

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