Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State Wednesday said the state would commence implementation of the new national minimum wage immediately.
He gave the indication while addressing workers at the May Day rally, organised by the State chapters of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
He described the workers as the most valuable asset in this state, without which he said the state cannot carry out its developmental strides.
He said: “You will recalled your solidarity visit to Government House, on that day, I promised you that under my leadership, Edo state will be one of the first states in Nigeria that will implement the new minimum wage if it is approved by the national assembly.
“Now that Mr. President has assented to the enacted bill passed by the national assembly, Edo state is ready to commence immediately the implementation of the new minimum wage, even though we are waiting the detailed guidelines which will be issued by the National Salary, Income and Wages Commission.
“Before that happens, a joint team of representatives of labour and government will be constituted immediately to finalize the modalities for payment,” Obaseki said.
The Governor however charged the workers to work hard to justify their new wage, even as he promised that the state could pay more if revenue generation increases.
He said: “All I want to say is that our government is very appreciative of you. When minimum wage was N18,000, we were paying N25,000 in Edo state, so N30,000 was just minimum. If we can improve our revenue I will increase the minimum wage.
“What it means is that all of you have to now commit to working hard. What we pay you is not what is important, but it is what you produce that is important. And if government is paying you N30,000, are you producing N30,000 monthly for government?”
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the NLC, Sunday Osayande, called on the federal and state governments to create more jobs, as well as making the environment conducive for private employers to create more jobs.
“There is no government anywhere in the world that can provide jobs for the entire populace. However, enabling environments are created for jobs to be created for jobs to be provided for the people. Labour hereby wishes to call on the federal and state governments to try and create jobs to reduce the unemployment rate in our society,” he said.
Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Marshall Ohue, in his speech, demanded that the state government stops forthwith, deductions from workers’ salaries for the national housing scheme, lest it incur the wrath of the workers.
According to him, “It is now obvious that the original intention of the housing scheme has been defeated. The workers if Edo State have been able to keep their side of the bargain, but employers (government) and the partners have derailed from the conditions and terms of contract.
“We therefore urge Edo State government as a matter of urgency, to direct the ICT unit to immediately stop the deductions of workers’ salaries for this scheme and that all monies deducted should be refunded with interest.
“Failure to refund the said money and stop further deductions will certainly incur the wrath of workers. If the scheme must continue, we advice that all deductions should be out on hold until all parties ful comply with the terms of contract.”