Saturday, April 4, 2015 6:18 pm
Barely a week before the Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in the State, the Candidate of the PDP in the State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has placed posters in the environs of the State Secretariat, Alausa, promising to implement the National Minimum Wage and pay leave allowances to the Public Servants if voted in as Governor of the State.
But a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, Mr. Hakeem Bello, explained that the administration of Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN was not only the first to implement the Minimum Wage structure but also added to the N18,000 Minimum Wage across board, a gesture for which the Public Servants commended the administration.
The statement recalled that the issue of minimum wage was settled on Tuesday, February 7, 2011, when the State Government signed an agreement with the 14 approved labour unions in the State Civil Service to pay N18,780 to the lowest paid of its workers.
The agreement, brokered by the then Commissioner for Establishment and Training, Mr. Jide Sanwoolu, according to the statement , increased the minimum wage of the lowest paid worker in the employment of the government by 69.6 percent which is a 7.6 percent increase over the Federal Government approved National Minimum Wage.
Apart from commendations from the national leadership of the labour unions then, the statement also recalled the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) of the approved labour unions, Comrade Henry Akinwunmiju, as thanking the State Government “for its magnanimity in not only meeting the workers’ demands but going beyond to give more than the Federal Government”.
It also quoted the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which was part of the negotiating team, Comrade Akeem Kazeem, as also thanking the State Government then “for the understanding it has shown concerning the workers’ demands” adding that “what has happened in Lagos State as regards the negotiations was worthy of emulation by other states of the Federation”.
On the issue of Leave Allowance, the statement said the Governor recently met with the Public Servants during which he explained that his administration did not stop paying leave allowances but that the system of annual payment of the allowance changed when the Public Servants themselves requested that they be moved from Harmonized Salary Structure to Consolidated Salary Structure as obtains in the Federal Civil Service.
According to the Governor during the meeting, when the Harmonized Salary Structure was operational, Government was saving a percentage of the salaries of the workers which were saved for them and given them in bulk later in the year when they wanted to proceed on leave.
He explained that the leaders of the workers’ associations came to him and said the workers wanted the Harmonized Salary Structure to be converted to Consolidated Structure adding that in the new structure, all benefits of the workers were consolidate into their monthly salaries.
Noting that the workers used to get their leave bonuses yearly, Governor Fashola, however, recalled, “In 2010, a request was brought to us that the Public Service wanted to convert to what the Federal Government had approved, which was Consolidated Salary System. The Leaders of the workers told us they were going on strike unless we approved the Consolidated Salary System and we concurred”.
The Governor explained further, “Now, once you move from Harmonized to Consolidated Salary System, all your entitlements are consolidated as well. In consolidating the salaries we did not take out their leave bonus because it is a matter of logic and common sense”.
“If we had taken out their leave bonuses their salaries would have reduced but their salaries did not reduce; rather in addition there was 25 percent wage increase at the time”, he said adding, “What has changed is that we stopped what we used to do before; that if a worker’s salary was say N10 and his leave bonus is N1, what he has been getting before would be N9 and N1 is being saved for him. Around August or September he would get N12 plus that month’s salary”.
“What is happening now is that the worker is getting N10 because we are not saving N1 anymore”, he said adding that the workers have now come back to say that they want Government to revert to the Harmonized Salary Structure.
Governor Fashola, who confirmed that the workers have come back to request a return to the old system, said he asked them to do a letter to him bearing such a request in order to ensure that it was a collective decision adding that he also suggested to the union members to subject such sensitive issues to extensive debate by members after which a decision could be taken that binds everyone.
Governor Fashola also repudiated the insinuation that the APC Governorship Candidate was dismissed from the State’s Civil Service, describing it as one of the many lies of the ruling party aimed at deceiving voters into voting for them. He explained that Mr. Akin Ambode retired voluntarily from the Public Service after 27 years of meritorious service to the State adding that he (Governor) wrote him a letter of commendation.
The Governor, who called on Lagosians to ignore such lies and others that would likely come from the party in the run up to Saturday’s Governorship election, noted that the PDP had done nothing in the last 16 years but lie to Nigerians about practically everything including the state of the economy and the security situation as well as other sensitive issues that affect the lives of the people.
Urging the people not to be deceived by such lies, Governor Fashola pointed out that in the last 16 years, the PDP-controlled Federal Government had ignored the State in Federal appointments and not only failed to maintain its numerous infrastructure in the State but refused to pay back to the State the money it has spent, amounting to N51 billion, in maintaining Federal assets in the State including roads and bridges.