BY ANDREW OJIEZEL |
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday said it is dismayed by the refusal of most state governments to implement the N30,000 national minimum wage.
Secretary-general of TUC, Comrade Musa Lawal, noted that some states have been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for non-payment of the new wage.
Stressing that it has become difficult to know states that are faithful in paying the wage, he revealed that some states are now contemplating a downward review of the minimum wage.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP, Ozigi said, “Things have not changed as concerning payment of National Minimum Wage. It is difficult to answer that question on how many states are now paying the National Minimum Wage because things have remained the same till now.
“Those states that have been feeling reluctant in payment of the N30, 000 prior to the invasion of the coronavirus pandemic have been hiding under the pandemic excuse for not payment. In fact, some of these state governments are even contemplating on downward review of their current payment for lack of funds to pay their workers.
“This still boils down to the federal government’s inability to have functional refineries. Is it not painful that as an oil producing country, Nigeria exports crude oil but buys back in huge amounts? Why should the abundant resources God gave us become curses for the country? We export crude oil thereby losing all the byproducts. We create jobs for other countries at the expense of our country.”
For pensioners who are being owed several months of arrears, Ozigi said the government and other stakeholders are moving around in circles over the matter.
“How can governments that have not been able to pay the working class be able to pay pensioners? A country that imports virtually everything cannot be able to have functioning establishments,” he said.
The TUC boss however said Labour will make its stand on the delay in paying pensioners their entitlements known after a meeting with the federal government next week.
“We are having a meeting with the federal government on February 21 because of fuel and electricity prices. Hopefully, we shall raise the issue of pensioners and slot it into it for discussion and solution. Then labour can be able to come out with a stand on pensioners,” he added.
A state government, name withheld, had in December 2020 reverted to the old minimum wage and paid N18,000 as November and December salary, citing shortfall from federal allocation as reason for its action.
Bowing to pressure by the organised labour, President Muhammadu Buhari, on April 18, 2019, finally signed the new minimum wage bill into law.
Although with his assent the president increased the minimum wage by 62.2 per cent from N18,500 to N30,000, some state governments are yet to implement the new minimum wage.