Unpaid Salaries: NLC Factions Unite Against Debtor Govs

Leaders of the two factions of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, have put aside their differences to fight against state governors owing workers’ salaries and other benefits, saying “we are united and on the same page on this issue and will collectively fight to ensure that these governors pay workers their earned wages and benefits.”

While the Ayuba Wabba led faction will be meeting on Wednesday to take a decisive action on how to force the debtor governors to pay workers their salaries and other unpaid benefits, the Joe Ajaero faction has given the governors till the end of August to pay or face unprecedented industrial unrest.

Speaking to Vanguard, Wabba said he had spoken to some of the leaders of the other group (Ajaero faction) and that there was no doubt that they were on the same page on the issue concerning workers’ welfare and that there would be collective action against the debtor governors.

According to him, there would be a joint meeting of his faction’s Central Working Committee, CWC, and National Executive Council, NEC, on Wednesday where state councils would give them first hand information on the true position of things in their states.

Taking of informed decisions

He said that besides few states like Osun, which were obvious, Congress needed the state councils to give the actual situations for informed decision to be taken, saying “what he have discovered is that it is not a question of shortage of funds that prevented some of these governors from paying workers’salaries, but that they used their funds for 2015 elections.

The financial situation is not as bad as being portrayed by these governors hence it not a general thing among the governors.

Take for example the case of Plateau State, the former governor was busy awarding bogus contracts which put the state in this terrible situation. The same thing as Bauchi. In Plateau, the new government has met with our leaders on how to address the issue.”

Wabba said his leadership had met with some state governors including Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who confirmed that the financial situation in the states was not as bad as being portrayed by the debtor governors.

He lamented that in their wisdom, the debtor governors decided not to prioritize payment of workers’ salaries and other benefits for less important things. “We have decided to summon a joint meeting of CWC and NEC to get a first hand information from our state councils. We are very concerned about the situation because it is very serious.

A worker deserves his wage. We will meet on Wednesday to decide how to collectively address the situation. It is no longer going to be a state by state action where a state would declare a strike and suspend it without achieving much.

The good thing about this is that we are united on this. We have spoken to some of the leaders of the other group (faction) and we are on the same page on this matter. We are going to collectively address it because an injury to one is an injury to the other. So, we are going to handle all the states collectively and   not individually.”

Wasteful disposition of state governors
Wabba also dismissed claims by some governors that the bailout was not meant for the payment of salaries and other allowances owed workers, saying “the bailout is for the payment of salaries and other allowances. We will not tolerate or accept a situation where the fund is diverted to other uses without first clearing the backlog of salaries and other workers’ benefits.”

In the same vein, the Joe Ajaero faction of NLC which held its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Port Harcourt Rivers State, lamented that the greed and wasteful dispositions of state governors prevented the governors from living up to their responsibilities of paying workers’ salaries and allowances as at when due.

Ajaero told Vanguard that the issue of unpaid salaries and other benefits to public workers by some state governors featured prominently during the NEC meeting and it was resolved that if at the end of August, the affected state governors failed to pay, industrial action would be declared against them.

He said, “the greed and wasteful dispositions of state governors have put this delicate and intricate balancing of income, consumption and production in a state of disequilibrium. It is unfortunate that many states cannot pay salaries in the first  instance.

It  is even more  inconceivable and definitely unacceptable that after the timely intervention of Mr. President, salaries of workers are still not paid in full as many states still owe many months of salary arrears. If this continues till August, we will  mobilize all private sector unions for solidarity strike action in affected states until arrears of salaries and allowances are paid.

“It must also be on record that we will  not accept the blackmail of economic crisis not to negotiate a new minimum wage deal  for Nigerian workers. We will resist every attempt to make Nigerian workers the sacrificial  lamb of the profligacy and maladministration of politicians.

We are, therefore, putting this administration on notice that five year tenure of the national minimum wage has ended and we are putting before the new administration a proposal of N90,000 for negotiation with the Federal Government and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA.

This  modest proposal is based on the  unstable macro-economic environment,  naira devaluation and the high rate of inflation. If there is any reason Nigeria is yet to fulfill her development potentials, it is corruption that is responsible for that.

With over 150 billion dollars stolen and stacked away in foreign banks all over the world, we need not search further the reason for the perennial decay and the sorry state of critical infrastructure in our dear country. It is natural, therefore, to support the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek international support to ensure repatriation of our stolen wealth.

“Beyond recovery of the stolen wealth, the present Administration must endeavour to review operations of the anti corruption agencies such as Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, with a view to strengthening them and making them come alive to their statutory functions of averting, discovering and punishing corruption and other related crimes in our society.

There is the urgent need, too, to carry out reforms in our justice system such that corruption cases can be quickly dispensed with.

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