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More states may follow as Ekiti suspends minimum wage, cuts workers’ salaries

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Fayemi Kayode

Ekiti State government has announced the suspension of minimum wage payment and a cut in the salaries of workers and political appointees.

According to a statement from the state government after a meeting with organized Labour unions in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, the decision was reached in response to the present economic reality in the country.

For a period of three months, the Ekiti government would temporarily delay paying minimum wage salaries to workers in Grade Levels 07 to 12 who have been affected since January 2021.

But workers on Grade Levels 01 to 06 were not affected, as their N30,000 minimum wage was upheld. The new salary structure was disclosed yesterday in Ado Ekiti during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the state government and Organised Labour on the new salary regime.

State chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Kolapo Olatunde; his counterparts in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Sola Adigun and the Joint Negotiating Council, Kayode Fatomiluyi, as well as the secretaries of the organisations, signed the agreement on behalf of the workers.

Read also: NLC wants national minimum wage retained on exclusive legislative list

While reading out the agreement, Adigun said Labour agreed that the consequential adjustment for certain categories of workers should be suspended for a period of three months beginning from May 2021.

It was also agreed that the salaries of political appointees should be slashed by 25 per cent for a period of three months.

The pact also included that the grant for the running of the Government House be reduced, while the monthly meeting of the Economic Review Committee was mandated to convene five days after the meeting of the Federal Account Allocation Committee to keep the workers abreast of the state’s financial position.

The workers also agreed that 10 per cent Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) should be released to the local councils henceforth.

In the pact, government gave the assurance that it won’t downsize or retrench any worker as a result of the present economic crunch in the country.

The Head of Service, Mrs. Peju Babafemi, while addressing the labour leaders, said Governor Kayode Fayemi had during a recent State of the State Finance programme presented the financial report of the state, where it was evident that the two sides must shift grounds as a response to the economic realities.

She said: “The revenue generating committee has been saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the state works hard and rakes in more monies to finance the state.

“I am confident that governor Fayemi will surely bring his ingenuity and wealth of experience to bear and we shall navigate out of this difficult situation soon. We thank the labour leaders for their understanding and show of solidarity.”

The SSA on Labour Matters, Oluyemi Esan, saluted the labour leaders for showing understanding in the matter.

“The labour and worker populace have been supporting the government since inception in 2018. When government is taking a stiff decision like this, please, let us show understanding knowing that this present government is worker friendly. Let us continue to be partners in progress,” Esan appealed.

Also speaking on the agreement, JNC Chairman, Fatomiluyi, said it was a known fact that Nigerians and especially workers were passing through hard economic situation.

“The government must adhere strictly to this agreement, because it is a painful one, but we call it a Doctrine of Necessity. We have to abide by it in the interest of our dear state and colleagues in the service.

“No labour leader would want his workers disengaged directly or indirectly and we thank the government for not thinking in this direction. That is the direction we want our colleagues to look at it. We are assuring our workers that we will continue to protect their rights always,” he said.

RipplesNigeria reported on Thursday that state governors may have to make difficult decisions in the coming months due to falling federal funds.

According to Ripples Nigeria findings, only three Nigerian states can generate up to 50 percent of their running costs. These states are Lagos, Federal Capital Territory and Ogun State

In fact, according to our states’ viability ranking, if federal revenue stops flowing into Ekiti, the state will only be able to generate 18 percent of the fund required to conduct its operations on its own. Among the 36 states, it is the 12th worst.

By David Ibemere…

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