13TH MONTH BONUS AND PROMPT PAYMENT OF SALARIES ARE GOOD DEVELOPMENTS BUT MORE DESIRABLE IS THE IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION OF N30, 000 MINIMUM WAGE WITHOUT RETRENCHMENT!
*Labour must ensure that the implementation of the new minimum wage is in full compliance with minimum wage act and the FG/labour agreement should be the bench mark!!
The attention of the Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter has been drawn to a media report that civil servants in the state were paid “13th month bonus” in addition to their December salary. This was reportedly paid on the 27th December, 2019 by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government. SPN welcomes this development and also recognizes the fact that such a development including the prompt and regular payment of salaries by Engr Seyi Makinde-led government is an improvement over what used to be the government attitude toward the welfare condition of the civil servants in the state particularly under the immediate past regime of Senator Ajimobi/APC-led government in the state.
However, this is not to say that the Seyi Makinde-led government is fundamentally different from the successive pro-capitalist regimes that preceded it in the state. As a matter of fact, SPN is of the opinion, that as good as prompt payment of salary and award of 13th month bonus might be a serious interest and priority should have also been given to the early implementation of the new minimum wage of N30, 000 and its corresponding consequential adjustment for all categories of civil servants in the state without retrenchment.
This to us is more desirable and as important as the prompt payment of salary and award of the 13th month bonus not only because the minimum wage itself was mandated by law but also that its implementation would have made both the monthly salary and the awarded 13th month bonus to be more valuable if it had been commenced
It is in the light of this, we of the SPN strongly hold that in addition to prompt payment of salary and award of 13th month bonus there should be commitment to immediate implementation of the new minimum wage. Unfortunately, no concrete commitment of such was made by the Seyi Makinde-led government until recently when it forced to set up a negotiating committee following the December 31st, 2019 ultimatum given to all state governments by the organized labour. Instead, investment on propaganda around the issue of prompt payment of salary and the award of 13th month bonus continue to be deepened. This therefore, raises a suspicion over whether or not the prompt payment of salary and the award itself is not a deliberate ploy to divert the attention of the civil servants in the state including the labour leaders from demanding from the implementation of the new minimum wage of N30, 000.
While SPN welcomes the fact that the committee to negotiate the modality for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage in the state was eventually set-up by the Seyi Makinde-led government, even though we suspect that the motive is to beat the December 31st ultimatum given to all state government by the National leadership of the two labour centers (NLC and TUC), we also call on the labour leaders and their representatives in the negotiating committee not to allow the committee to become another ploy to unduly delay the implementation of the new minimum wage. As far as we are concerned, the task of the committee is to help to negotiate the modality for the implementation of the new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment including the payment of the over seven months accumulated arrears of the new minimum wage without retrenchment.
In our opinion the FG/labour agreement on consequential adjustment for the N30, 000 minimum wage should be the benchmark for the negotiation. According to this agreement, the percentage increase for difference category of workers are as follow: 23.2% increase for workers on level seven, 20% increase for workers on level eight, 19% increase for workers on level nine, 16% increase for workers on 10-14 and 14% increase for workers in levels 15 to 17. Therefore, the labour leaders and the representatives of labour in the committee must also be vigilant so as to ensure that the modality for the implementation of the new minimum wage that will be signed on behalf of the entire civil servants in the state does not fall below the agreement reached by the National leadership of labour at the federal level. This does not mean that effort to secure an agreement that will guaranteed a higher pay for civil servant in the state should not also be tested.
Llabour leaders must also ensure that the implementation of any agreement reached must be in compliance with the minimum wage act. The minimum wage according to its act, is meant to be the minimum figure for the basic component of the total emolument per month earn by workers on the lowest cadre which is usually level 6 step 1 in the civil service. It is not the same as the total emoluments as often presented by the state governors. The usual practice whereby the state Governor lump-up all the components of the salary which include basic and other allowances to make up a figure of the minimum wage earned by the workers in the lowest cadres is a manipulation of the minimum wage act.
Labour leaders and labour representatives in the committee must be ready and prepared to reject this kind of manipulation of the minimum wage act and insist on the implementation of the new minimum wage that will be in compliance with the minimum wage act. Unlike in 2011 when the inglorious regime of Senator Abiola Ajimobi forced on the workers in the lowest cadre in the civil service a sum of N19,500 with a claim that the regime pay above the N18,000 minimum wage.
We call for regular congresses of workers convened by labour leaders to give progress reports on the negotiation and to table any agreement for democratic deliberation and decision of workers before it is signed.
By and large, while workers and labour leaders must fight for the full implementation of the new minimum wage without retrenchment, they should realise that even a full compliance with the prescription of the minimum wage act, does not guarantee a permanent respite and end to the huge economic woes under which mass of the working people groan today. The reason is because none of the economic crises faced by the mass of the working people today can be resolved on the basis of the exploitative capitalist system. It is in the consideration of this fact, we of the SPN call on the labour leaders and mass of the working people to join us in SPN with a view to help to build it as a mass party that is formidable to defeat the big anti-poor capitalist parties and enthrone a socialist government. It is only such a government run on the basis of socialist programme that is capable of beginning to reconstruct the society in the interest and needs of the workers, youth, the poor masses and the society not on the basis of profit and greed of a rich few as it obtains now.
Comrade Ayodeji Adigun
SPN State Secretary