NLC knocks 20 states for withholding wage awards

Eight months after the Federal Government implemented a N35,000 wage award on top of the N30,000 minimum wage, urging state governments to follow suit, many states have yet to comply.

Out of these, 15 states have completely withheld the wage award, while seven provided it briefly before stopping.

The wage award was designed to alleviate economic hardship until a new minimum wage could be set. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the non-compliance as a sign of insensitivity, highlighting the additional strain on workers already burdened by economic policies.

In contrast, 15 states have been distributing wage awards or salary increments, ranging from N10,000 to N40,000. States failing to implement these awards span across various regions: one in the South-East, four in the South-South, three in the North-East, two in the North-Central, and five in the North-West. Those that paid for a short period include Delta, Niger, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, and Nasarawa.

Currently, states adhering to the wage award include Lagos, Edo, Bayelsa, Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Kano, Kwara, Cross River, and Taraba.

Presidential Appeal

In March, President Bola Tinubu appealed to state governors during a visit to Minna, Niger State, to implement the wage awards. He emphasized the relief it would bring to the populace, though many states still have not acted on this appeal.

State Responses

Delta State has promised to establish a committee to address wage issues, while Rivers and Akwa Ibom await official federal directives. Akwa Ibom’s Governor Umo Eno has pledged to adopt the new minimum wage once established.

Negotiations and Promises

Negotiations continue between the Federal Government, labour unions, and the Organized Private Sector over the new minimum wage. Labor demands N250,000, while the Federal Government and OPS suggest N62,000. President Tinubu indicated plans to propose an executive bill on the matter soon.

Partial Payments and Promises

Some states have provided temporary relief. Niger State paid a one-time N20,000, while Katsina distributed N15,000 twice and N10,000 to pensioners. Nasarawa and Bauchi offered limited payments and palliatives, and Plateau provided N12,000 for six months.

Full Wage Awards

States like Edo and Bayelsa have fully implemented wage increases. Edo now pays a minimum of N70,000, with adjustments as needed, while Bayelsa provides tiered wage awards based on employee grades.

Imo State has added N10,000 to workers’ wages, and Enugu has been giving N25,000 to state workers and N10,000 to local government staff and primary school teachers since December 2023. Ebonyi and Ondo have also introduced additional payments, with Ondo extending N35,000 to workers and N10,000 to pensioners.

State Governments Await Further Instructions

Other states, such as Rivers and Kebbi, are holding off until further negotiations conclude. Meanwhile, Borno and Yobe are distributing food and other palliatives instead of cash awards.

Labour’s Critique

An NLC official, speaking anonymously, criticized non-compliant governors for neglecting worker welfare. He emphasized that the wage award was part of an agreement meant to offset the adverse effects of government policies. The official highlighted the increased revenues states received from the FAAC due to higher PMS prices, criticizing the diversion of these funds to projects rather than worker salaries.

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