By Adeniyi Adedeji, Ilorin
The Kwara State government has allayed the fears of its workers that a scheduled staff audit and verification exercise will not be a pre-condition for payment of minimum wage.
Kwara workers have been worried that the state government-planned audit and verification of workers was a ploy to avoid paying the demanded N30,000 minimum wage.
The workers, through the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had last week given the government a 14-day strike notice over the non-payment of the minimum wage.
However, explaining the government’s position in Ikotun, the state capital, the state Commissioner for Comunication, Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin, said, “To be sure, negotiations for the minimum wage continues on Thursday. The minimum wage is a law the state government will obey.
“The challenge however has been how the local governments can afford it. At the moment, all the local governments combined earn an average of N2.6 billion monthly, including the 10 percent of their share of the IGR. Remarkably, the monthly wage bill of these local governments stands at about N2.5 billion.
“These expenses, it must be stated, are based on the extant N18,000 minimum wage.
“When the new minimum wage is considered, including the consequential adjustments, the wage bill will shoot up to around N3 billion. Clearly, the earnings of the local governments cannot afford such at this time.
“The government is committed to paying the minimum wage, but it is pleading with organised labour to accept a more reasonable scale, which takes the total wage bill to less than N3 billion.
The commissioner, therefore, pleaded that workers to agree to “reasonable and practical steps to avoid a situation which would lead to the local governments borrowing to pay salaries, as was the case before the advent of this administration.”