Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday assured of better days for workers in the state as he declared readiness of his government to pay to them more than the N30,000 benchmark for the national minimum wage.
Governor Sanwo-Olu gave this assurance during a meeting with organised labour unions held at the State House in Alausa, Ikeja, saying the implementation of the new minimum wage payment would take off when the Federal Government and labour unions concluded their negotiations.
This was just as he said that the state was drawing up its finances and creating additional revenue sources that would enable the government to sustain the new minimum wage payment.
Sanwo-Olu said his government understood the day-by-day challenges being faced by workers in the state to do their tasks, which informed the decision by his administration to pay more than the N30,000 minimum wage benchmark.
The governor, in addition, pointed out the move was to motivate workers and encourage them to cope with challenges that may hinder their productivity.
“As a government, we take the issue of minimum wage very seriously. We know how important and germane it is to the wellbeing of our people. We are technically ready to implement the new minimum wage.
“I made a commitment during my previous interactions with the labour unions before my assumption of office and I am still keeping to the promise made. However little it is, we will certainly pay more than N30,000 minimum wage.
“We understand the position Lagos occupies and we understand the challenges workers are facing in Lagos. If other states can raise up to that amount, I believe Lagos needs to show a bit more to appreciate workers’ contribution to the growth of our state,” he said.
During interaction with the labour unions’ leaders, Sanwo-Olu listened to various demands of the workers, which included arrears of workers’ medical allowance, introduction of premium insurance for the workforce, timely pension payment for retired workers, mortgage scheme for housing, befitting labour secretariat and representation of workers’ unions in MDA boards’ appointments.
The governor said he had directed the Commissioner for Finance to look into the unpaid arrears of workers’ medical allowance, with a charge to clear the backlog and make payment to the affected workers.
The governor, while disclosing that the state was planning to absorb its entire workforce in the recently introduced health insurance scheme, observed that the Ministry of Health was harmonising the modality to ensure all workers were covered in the scheme.
According to him, the government will collaborate with the organised labour unions to float a post-retirement housing scheme that would enable workers of all cadres to apply and acquire permanent homes after leaving the service, promising that the state government would be donating land for the purpose, while the labour unions would source for finance to develop the scheme.
In addition, Sanwo-Olu said his government had approved discounted rent for the workers occupying state-owned apartments, adding that was part of the welfare programmes introduced by his government to improve workers’ productivity.
The governor said his administration had started to tackle challenges limiting the workers’ productivity, including massive rehabilitation of critical highways across the state to reduce travel time and diffuse road congestion.
The union leaders, who were excited by Governor Sanwo-Olu’s pronouncement to pay above the minimum wage, described the governor as “a listening leader,” observing that he had started to fulfil promises made to the unions in the build-up to the 2019 elections.
Chairman of Lagos Council of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo, listed re-introduction of town hall meeting with labour unions and appointment of more women into the state cabinet as part of the promises fulfilled by the governor.
Ekundayo informed Governor Sanwo-Olu that the labour unions had been meeting to develop a framework that would make the state government capture traders in the informal sector in the tax net, assuring that the labour unions’ recommendations would be submitted to the Head of Service (HOS), Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, in the coming weeks.
Chairperson of the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Funmi Sessi, described workers as government’s partners in progress while appreciating Sanwo-Olu for keeping some of his promises with the workers’ unions.
She promised that the organised labour would continue to support the government’s efforts towards improving the wellbeing of the residents and workers in the state.
Sanwo-Olu also met with members of Lagos State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) led by Comrade Rasak Falade at the State House.
Top government officials who joined the governor at both meetings with Organised Labour Unions’ leaders included the Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle, and HOS, Mr. Muri-Okunola, among others.