Workers get minimum wage, govs seek new revenue formula

Eight months after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), signed the new minimum wage bill into law, the Federal Government on Monday reflected the adjustments in the December salaries of civil servants.

One of our correspondents who spoke to some civil servants on Monday was told that the new salary scale was what the government used in paying them their December salaries.

One of the civil servants who is at Salary Grade Level 10 confided in one of our correspondents that the difference between his former salary and what he was paid for December was more than N15, 000.

Another senior government official, who pleaded anonymity as he was not permitted to speak on the matter, confirmed receiving the new salary scale.

He said salary arrears of about seven months would be paid next year as it had already been provided for in the 2020 Budget.

The official said, “We have been having feelers that the government would reflect the new minimum wage in our December salary but we didn’t take them seriously.

“But to our surprise, we started receiving salary alerts today (Monday) and what many of us got was different from what they have been paying us.”

Following the development, the organised labour on Monday said there was no longer a hiding place for state governments and private employers of labour who fail to pay the new minimum wage by December 31.

The Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Lawal Origi, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.

He said, “Our reaction to this good news is simple: it is a confirmation that the Federal Government is faithful to the actualisation of the new minimum wage.

“We had an agreement with the FG which has been actualised. This is a yardstick for state and local governments to wake up and emulate the FG.

“If they fail to do so, we shall strategise and ensure that the gains of the minimum wage struggle reflect all around Nigeria.

“It will not only end in states and LG alone but also with workers in the private sector. This is what we will address in the meeting we have called in January.

“We, as labour leaders, have a lot of work to do and we are ready to go all the way.

“By December 31, any state and private sector employer that fails to implement the new minimum wage shall be seen as declaring war against the Nigerian workers and we shall address it accordingly.”

However, the Nigeria Governors Forum has said that it will not back down in its demand for a review of the revenue sharing formula to make more funds available to states and local governments.

It stated that while the states were bound by law to pay the current national minimum wage of N30, 000, they could also do with increased funding through a review of the formula.

The NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who spoke with State House Correspondents in Abuja on Monday, noted that the review was long overdue, as the two lower tiers of government were battling additional responsibilities.

Specifically on the minimum wage, the governor said some states had started paying, adding that others were waiting for the conclusion of the negotiations on consequential adjustments before they could start the payment.

Asked if the states would not pay the N30,000 minimum wage until the revenue sharing formula was reviewed, Fayemi replied that some states were already paying, since it was a law.

The governor added, “The minimum wage is a law. But, a National Minimum Wage Act is not a general minimum wage review. They are two separate things.

“Governors are committed to the Minimum Wage Act and no one is going to pay anything less than N30, 000. Some of us have started paying N30, 000 as you may be aware, others want negotiations on the consequential adjustments to end before they start paying the minimum wage.”

<<Punch>>