SPN Demands Immediate Implementation of N30,000 Minimum Wage in Osun State without retrenchment; and Payment of over Thirty-month Arrears of Half-salaries and Half-pensions
* The Governor should stop paying lip service on the matter but pay the new minimum wage
* We call on labour leaders to call Workers’ Congress to discuss and take actions
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State Chapter hereby calls on the government of Gboyega Oyetola in Osun State to, as a matter of urgency, start the implementation of N30, 000 minimum wage to all categories of workers in the state. The new minimum wage has been legislated into law since April 2019, and the circular for the implementation has been issued for the past four months. Rather than begin the process of implementing the new minimum wage, the governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola has been grandstanding on the issue. Currently, Osun State is among the states that have not taken any step in implementing the new minimum wage. Therefore, the continued failure to implement the N30, 000 minimum wage is clearly a violation of the laws of the country. It is thereby wrongful and illegal, and is tantamount to a deliberate attempt to continue to deny workers of their legitimate earnings.
In addition, we call on the government to immediately offset the over thirty months’ arrears of half-salaries and half-pensions owed workers and retirees in Osun State. It is condemnable the continuous failure of the government to pay the arrears of salaries and pensions owed workers since 2015, under the anti-worker Aregbesola government. It is interesting to note that the current governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, as the Chief of Staff to the Aregbesola government, was the leader of the government committee that planned and effected the payment of half salaries and half pensions to workers and retirees for over thirty months. Despite the promise of the outgone government to offset the arrears, the government refused to pay the arrears. Rather, the Aregbesola government left a legacy of unsustainable debts, uncompleted projects and mass misery, for the state.
The Oyetola government has continued, under the tag of ‘Continuity’, to worsen already bad situation. Not only has the government failed to offset the arrears of salaries and pensions, it has indeed put more burden on working people in the state. Aside the extortionate levies and taxes imposed on people of the state, coupled with criminal commercialization of social services like education and healthcare, the Oyetola government has been encroaching on workers’ salaries through anti-worker policies such as monthly deduction for health insurance and water levy, even when the government neither provide functional healthcare nor potable water supply for the citizens.
There is no basis for the government not to pay workers the new minimum wage, and offset the 30-month arrears of salaries and pensions, if the government has any iota of interest to address the excruciating poverty confronting the working masses of Osun State. We equally reject the complaint of the government on poor financial resources. The same government that is always shouting poor financial resources, has been busy committing the state resources to private pockets. For instance, the government currently has an over-bloated cabinet comprising thirty five commissioners and advisers, not to mention countless number of aides; all of whom are paid mouth-watery emoluments. Also, the same state government that has refused to pay the minimum wage and offset arrears of salaries and pensions, has been busy committing the state resources to paying interests on loans incurred under the Aregbesola government. Meanwhile, majority of these loans are fictitiously obtained and could not be accounted for.
For instance, while the state incurred as much as N200 billion debts under the Aregbesola government, majority of the projects, especially road projects, airport projects, etc. have been left uncompleted or abandoned; meanwhile the projects were paid for, and the loans procured to pay for them are now being serviced by the government. Also, the Aregbesola government got about N35 billion as bailout loan from the federal government between 2016 and 2017 to offset arrears of salaries and pensions, but the Aregbesola government, which Mr. Oyetola served as Chief of Staff, only paid for few months, without a proper and democratic account of what the rest of the bailout was used for. Also, some of the loans were procured in an opaque and not transparent process.
As a result of all of these, the state is paying heavily with as much as 60 percent of the federal allocation to the state going to payment and servicing of debts. A sensible and prudent approach would have been for the government to recoup the money meant for these abandoned and uncompleted projects and review all the loans incurred, rather than compensating corruption and fraud as the Oyetola government is currently doing with its continuity plan. If the state government will not review the committal of state resources to corruption, extravagance and mismanagement, there is no basis for the state government not to pay the new minimum wage and offset the arrears of salaries and pensions.
We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State therefore call on workers in the state to put pressure on leadership of trade unions in Osun State to begin the process of compelling the Oyetola government to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage and over 30-month arrears of half-salaries and half-pensions. It is unfortunate that majority of the labour leaders, especially of the main trade union centres, have remained silent on the issue of the new minimum wage and arrears of salaries and pensions.
This has been the attitude of the labour leaders, especially of the public sector in the state in the last five years. In fact, the labour leaders helped the government to implement the half-salary and half-pension policy in 2015 by acquiescing to what was clearly an illegal policy. Many workers and retirees were put in terrible financial state while many lost their lives and properties to this wicked policy of the Aregbesola government, with Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, as the chief of staff. While workers and retirees were groaning under serious financial strain, the labour leaders were comfortable sitting in a committee administering this odious half-salary and half-pension policy; obviously for pecuniary reasons.
Therefore, workers should not assume that these labour leaders on their own will defend their interests. Workers and pro-workers organizations in the state must pile pressure on not only the Oyetola government, but the labour leaders in order to guarantee the payment of the new minimum wage. We call on workers to demand the immediate convening of CONGRESS across the state, where the issue of the implementation of the new minimum wage and payment of arrears of salaries and pensions will be discussed. We also call on workers not to accept any rotten deal on these issues, but ensure that their interests are firmly secured in any negotiation on these issues. If the government refuses to implement the new minimum wage and offset the arrears of salaries and pensions, workers must mobilize for democratic and peaceful mass actions including a 48-hour warning strike backed with mass protest across the state.
SPN Governorship Candidate