Friday, July 19, 2024

“NLC Investigates Nigerian Governors for Alleged Non-Compliance with Minimum Wage Law”

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The Assistant General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Chris Onyeka, says many state governors are flouting the Minimum Wage Act because they do not believe in sanctity of the law.

Onyeka gave the position in Abuja on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on minimum wage law and its implementation.

NAN reports that while workers are anxiously awaiting a new minimum wage to be passed into law, 15 states are yet to implement the N30,000 wage enacted in 2019.

Even with the increased revenue accruable to states after the fuel subsidy removal and the attendant hardship brought about by the hike in pump prices, the states still need to pay their workers the minimum wage.

The states yet to implement the minimum wage, in defiance of the 2019 Act, are, Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Gombe, Niger, Borno, Sokoto, Anambra, Imo, Benue, Taraba, and Zamfara.

Onyeka said, “A state governor who does not believe in the sanctity of the laws will have a high proclivity to disobey them.

“If you examine the history of some of these governors and their handlers, you will find a preponderance of those who came to power by breaking the laws.

“Is it now that they will obey the National Minimum Wage Act?”.

The labour leader said many governors were unwilling to pay civil servants their salaries because they see the state resources as theirs and are, therefore, not willing to share with the workers, who create the wealth.

“Some governors believe, erroneously, that workers’ salaries can wait or be toyed with without consequences, so they do not place priority to it.

“However, they forget that workers are human beings who need their salaries to meet their basic needs of life,” he said.

Onyeka added that fiscal indiscipline in many states is legendary, adding that the personal greed of some governors resulted in their appropriating state resources into their private pockets.

The labour leader reiterated the need to cut cost of governance at all levels and end wastage.

He identified the measures to include, reduction in the number of political appointees to reduce overhead, as well as a reduction in the number of logistics, official, and operational vehicles.

Onyeka said the salaries and allowances of elected and appointed officials of the three arms of government should be in sync with what is receivable by civil servants.

He said government at all levels should streamline procurement processes to ensure integrity, accountability, fiscal discipline, and transparency.

“Governors should ensure budgetary fidelity, shun fund diversions, and stop making provisions that allow for looting of the states.

“They should stay more in their states instead of constantly being in Abuja, spending a lot of money maintaining two state houses,” he said.

Speaking on what could be done to compel the governors to obey the minimum wage law, the labour leader said the principles of law enforcement should be deployed.

According to him, the National Minimum Wage Act has clauses that take care of monitoring and compliance, noting that the challenge is at the level of enforcement.

“The federal allocation to such states, once it is established that they are habitual breakers of the law, should be sequestered until they are compelled to pay.

‘The labour unions should also be empowered and supported in their actions against such states to pay.

“The Judiciary should be strengthened, especially the National Industrial Court, to carry out its responsibilities effectively,

“The court should not only give rulings but also issue enforceable garnishee orders against such state governments,” he said.

Onyeka maintained that it is the right of organised labour to embark on strikes, and the federal government must give protection to workers so aggrieved to freely exercise their legal rights.
(NAN)

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