By Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadri.
The governor of Kwara State, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq Tuesday reacted to the industrial action embarked on by the organized labour in the State in demand for minimum wage, saying the government currently has limited finance that cannot accommodate such request.
Alluding to the injunction granted by an Akure Division of the National Industrial Court against the strike, Abdulrazaq said the Kwara State government does not recognize any strike and would expect that workers should be at their duty posts.
Governor Abdulrazaq, who spoke after inspecting the Banni Community Secondary School in Ilorin, said the government currently has a list of competing demands, including delapidated school infrastructures and health facilities, which does not give the government the leeway to do the bidding of the labour unions in the State.
Abdulrazaq, who clarified that the government was not against the payment of minimum wage which was already passed into law by parliament, said the consequencial adjustment is what is at issue, since, according him, the government “cannot spend 100% of its earning on paying salaries.”
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye quoted Governor Abdulrahman as saying, “If we accede to the request of the labour, we will not be able to do any other thing other than paying workers. Our schools have collapsed; the basic health facilities need to be fixed; and we need to do much more for the rest of the population too.
“We want to pay the minimum wage. Where we disagree with the labour is consequential adjustment that they are asking for. It will mean we cannot do any other thing outside salary payment.”
The governor, who lamented the state of Banni Community Secondary School, said the situation is the same in most public schools across the State.
Calling on labour to show understanding and embrace the disposition of government to open and transparent dialogue, Abdulrazaq said the door for dialogue would always remained open.
“Negotiation is an ongoing thing. No door is shut for negotiation. We can always talk with one another,” the governor said.
He added, “As you can see we are having issues with the labour unions in the state. Yes, we’re not saying that we will not pay the minimum wage but (we can only pay) on the scale that is affordable. You can imagine a situation where local governments are earning N2.6bn a month and the salaries are almost exactly the same when you add their other expenses. The unions want an increase (of that) to N3bn. That is N400m per month increase, from where will the local governments get that? So, the consequential increase should not be that much. That’s not affordable because we have to renovate schools, hospitals, road infrastructure, and we are not going to spend 100% of our income on payment of salaries.”
The organized labour in Kwara on Tuesday embarked on industrial action to drive home its demand for the N30,000 minimum wage. Our correspondent had earlier reported that the strike action had almost brought to a halt activities in most government establishments and public schools.
Meanwhile, the Daudu Banni of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulyman Abdulkareem had, while receiving Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq on an inspection visit to the Banni Community Secondary School, praised the commitment of the governor to the development of infrastructure across the State.