New Telegraph

February 25, 2024

Excitement, jubilation in Kwara as govt implements minimum wage

…AbdulRazaq, a people’s gov, says Joint Negotiating Council

 

The implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage approved a few years ago by the Federal Government has remained a bone of contention between the organised labour unions and many state and local governments. To date, only a few have implemented the new wage. In this report, STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI examines how the contentious issue of the minimum wage, particularly the adjustments for the senior officers, was eventually resolved to the delight of Kwara workers

 

It was jubilation galore among civil servants in Kwara State penultimate week as the state government fully implemented the N30, 000 minimum wage for all categories of its workforce, including the contentious consequential adjustments for the senior officers.

 

This gesture by the AbdulRahman Abdul- Razaq administration, no doubt, has gone a long way to bolster workers’ purchasing powers, while also rejuvenating the local economy that has been badly hit by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic and hyperinflation, among others.

 

Expectedly, as alerts of the January 2022 salary continued to trickle into the various bank accounts of the workers penultimate Monday, this triggered wide applause for the governor for making his words his bond and walking his talk by fulfilling the promise he had made to the workers that he would implement the consequential adjustments’ component of the minimum wage for the senior civil servants in the state, notwithstanding dwindling resources largely triggered by the coronavirus pandemic resulting in long lockdown across the globe.

 

Hitherto, there had been widespread fear and apprehension among the senior civil servants that the governor might not faithfully and satisfactorily implement the consequential adjustments for them, given erstwhile deadlocked negotiations between the state government and the organised labour unions as both were seemingly not ready to shift ground.

 

However, it would be recalled that the state government had earlier implemented the N30, 000 minimum wage for all its junior workers on salary grade levels 01 to 06, while negotiations for the implementation of the consequential adjustments’ component of the minimum wage for officers on salary grade levels 07 and above had been stalled because the two parties  failed to agree on a meeting point.

 

While the state government was ruing paucity of fund arising from dwindling revenue, the organised labour unions would have nothing of such, insisting that the consequential adjustments must be implemented to the letter because it was their contention that both the state civil servants and their federal counterparts working in the state patronise the same market.

 

It would also be recalled that the state government on October 2, 2021 signed the minimum wage agreement with the organised labour unions in the state, confirming that the minimum payment for workers on salary grade levels 1 to 6 had begun since February 2021.

By the agreement signed by both the representatives of the organised labour unions led by the NLC Chairman Comrade Issa Ore and government led by the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare, Alhaja Afusat Afolabi, who represented the Head of Service/ Chairman of the Government’s Minimum Wage Committee, Mrs Susan Oluwole, “the consequential adjustments would be implemented as would be agreed upon by the minimum wage committee, amid ongoing negotiations between the two parties.”

 

Other signatories to the agreement were the Chairman of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Comrade Saliu Suleiman; Secretary of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Comrade Joseph Tunde, and the Director, Establishment, Pension and Industrial Relations/Secretary  of the Government’s Minimum Wage Committee, Yusuf Ibrahim Amuda.

“The effective date for the 1st phase of the new minimum wage implementation covering grade level 01-06 shall be 1st day of February, 2021.

 

The consequential adjustments of the new minimum wage for GL 07-17 shall be implemented by the State Government across board, in accordance with relevant salary structures in the state public service and their relativity as would be agreed upon by the Minimum Wage Committee,” said the agreement.

 

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Commissioner for Finance, Mrs Florence Olasunbo Oyeyemi, said the signing of the minimum wage table and agreement, which is already being implemented, was a legal requirement, reiterating that the AbdulRazaq administration remains passionate about workers’ welfare. She said: “We just signed the minimum wage table and agreement for grade levels 1 to 6. It involved both the labour and government sides.

 

Negotiation is still ongoing regarding the consequential adjustments for the senior cadres. What is certain is, we care for and want the best for the workers.” On his part, the state NLC Chairman said he had the mandate of the workers to conclude work on the signing of the new minimum wage for the junior cadres, adding that negotiation was still ongoing on the consequential adjustments’ component.

 

He said: “Today, we were able to sign that leg of the minimum wage agreement which  affects only grade level 1 to 6. You know there are two legs under it: the new minimum wage and the consequential adjustment.

 

That of the consequential adjustment is still going on. The labour side and government side will continue the negotiation. And I am happy to inform you that we have the mandate of the workers to come here for the signing which has now become a law today.”

 

However, the apprehension of the senior civil servants was finally laid to rest by the eventual conclusion of agreement on the consequential adjustments for the senior cadres and its implementation and reflection in the January 2022 salary of the senior officers in both the state and local governments.

 

An elated Secretary of the State Joint Negotiating Council, Comrade Tunde Joseph, while acknowledging the state government’s gesture, opined that the development was indeed commendable and that the governor deserves a pat on the back for allowing this to happen at this material time of biting inflation and economic and financial downturns ravaging all sectors of human endeavours.

 

He said: “The Kwara State Organised Labour Unions under the auspices of TUC, NLC and the JNC hereby wishes to thank the Kwara State Government, under the leadership of Governor AbdulRahman Abdul- Razaq, our amiable, ebullient and dedicated Governor, for this noble achievement in this period of our economic and financial exigenciesaffectingallsectorsof humanendeavours.

“On this note Comrades, it is imperative to appreciate the Kwara State workers for your perseverance, loyalty, support and prayers through these years, we say thank you. “To all the government representatives that had one way or the other participated at the negotiation processes, the labour leaders and the elders’ forum, we appreciate you all.”

A senior local government officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “I am so happy for the implementation of the new minimum wage.

 

It is a development we are not even expecting anymore because promises had been made in the past without coming to realisation. I really appreciate the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazak for putting the welfare of Kwara State workers, including those of us at the local government level, at heart because this goes a long way in ameliorating the financial difficulties being faced by us as workers.

 

“If the previous administrations before the coming of AbdulRazaq in 2019 had fully implemented the N18,000 minimum wage then and had not been cutting our salaries, our financial situation would not have been as terrible as it is, but they failed woefully in this regard.”

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