Politics

Nigeria: Workers Groan As States Cut Salaries Amid Inflation


Workers in some states of the federation are currently groaning under hardship occasioned by salary cuts and rationed salaries amid inflation and general economic hardship in the country.

Daily Trust findings revealed that the most heavily hit are teachers and workers at the local governments.

The pay cut is biting hard on the workers even as transportation fare has gone up and purchasing power of their earning dwindle amid biting inflation occasioned by continued fall of Naira at the exchange market.

In Kano, civil servants and political appointees suffered cuts in their February salaries with many of them spoken to by Daily Trust admitting that the cut had further plunged them into untold hardship, especially with the increasing cost of almost all commodities in the country.

The state’s chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had kicked against the slash in February salaries before payment began with its Chairman, Kabiru Ado Minjibir, revealing that the labour leaders were told that the state got N5.4 billion as federal allocation for January as against the N6.99 billion distributed for December 2021.

He said it was on that basis that the government “Resorted to paying workers using the template of April 2021 where a percentage was deducted from workers’ pay while local government workers were paid the N18,000 minimum wage”.

But reacting in a chat with Daily Trust, the states Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said it was not true that the state government reverted to the old minimum wage.

He explained that workers and political appointees only received lesser than their usual salary because of the shortfall in federal allocation and internally generated revenue.

Garba said the state Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, was one of the most committed governors to the N30,000 minimum wage and even added N600 for Kano workers.

He assured that immediately there was an improvement in federal allocations and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the state government would continue to pay N30,600 minimum wage, appealing to the workers and labour unions to bear with the government.

Daily Trust, however, gathered that Jigawa and Katsina, the two states neighbouring Kano, paid their worker’s full salaries for the month of February.

Salaries rationed in Kogi

Kogi State is one of the states in the country paying salaries in percentages to its civil servants and political appointees.

Daily Trust gathered that before the month of February pay cut, workers had suffered for five months in the implementation of percentage payment in the second year of the present administration.

The promise to pay the balance of the said five months has not been kept.

The state Commissioner for Finance, Asiru Idris, had via a press release informed workers that the government would pay workers in its employ a staggered amount for the month of February.

He stated that the percentage salary payment was occasioned by the late receipt as well as the poor allocation of FAAC to the state.

Asiru, in the statement, stated that workers on level seven and above in all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the pensioners and political office holders were to be paid 70 per cent of the new minimum wage.

He added that civil servants on levels 1 – 6 in the MDAs, alongside pensioners on a monthly payment of N40,000 and below and judiciary workers were to enjoy 100 per cent of their February salaries in line with the new minimum wage.

Many workers lamented that they have been offered promotion without cash backing as well as stoppage of annual leave grant and impress to concerned officers.

It was also gathered that primary and secondary school teachers and local government workers have been on percentage payments of 30 to 35 % of their basic salary for years.

Also, the primary health workers in the service of local governments have been collecting 30 to 35 per cent salaries in the past two years.

The state Secretary of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Rose Momoh, said that the health workers in the state had the worst recently when the state government paid them 25 per cent of their January salary in 2022.

The MHWUN leadership had last week issued an ultimatum to the state government to pay up full salary to its members or risk strike action.

A level 12 primary school teacher who spoke under the condition of anonymity told Daily Trust in Lokoja that, for years, he had been taking home N4,000 as monthly salary, after every deduction was effected.

The NLC Chairman in the state, Mr Onuh Edoka, while speaking on the development said the government had promised to pay the balance in the preceding month to workers.

Meanwhile, the Kogi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the percentage payment of salaries to workers as “Embarrassing and inhuman”.

The party in a statement by its Director of Media and Communications, Dayo Onibiyo, wondered why the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state owed workers.

“Despite the release of the bailout it applied and got approval for, the APC-led government has not been able to make the workers smile as it pays percentage when it cares to manage to pay,” the statement said.

LG workers, primary school teachers paid in percentage in Niger

In Niger State, while state civil servants get their full salaries, their counterparts in the local governments have been battling with rationed salary payments since April 2021.

The ongoing strike embarked upon by primary school teachers since January 10 was due to the staggered salary payment.

Earlier this month, the Niger State chapter of the NLC had declared an indefinite strike, directing state civil servants to join in solidarity with the primary school teachers and local government staff. The NLC-led strike was however called off on Friday.

But the primary school teachers, who have spent the whole of the second term at home, thereby crippling the academic activities in public primary schools in the state, said they are forging ahead with the industrial action.

The state’s Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Akayago Adamu Mohammed, said at the commencement of the strike action that the strike was declared after a series of ultimatums were given to the state government to respond, noting that the teachers would not return to work until percentage salary payment was stopped.

Daily Trust gathered that the percentage salary payment varied from one local government to another, ranging from 40 to 70 per cent.

The variation was said to be due to the staff strength of each local government and the allocation they receive from the state government after the statutory deductions on their share of the monthly federation account allocation.

When contacted to speak on the pending issues, the NUT Chairman, Akayago Adamu Mohammed said he would address the media at an appropriate time while the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Idrees Lafene requested for an appointment to comment on the matter.

Gombe LG workers lament non-payment of minimum wage

In Gombe, workers under the payroll of the 11 local government councils are yet to start receiving the new minimum wage adopted by the state in the aftermath of the cut down on wages in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Governor of the state and Chairman of the Joint Negotiation Council, Dr Manassah Daniel Jatau, said the poor financial status of the LGAs made it difficult to pay the ‘bloated’ local council workforce the new minimum wage.

Some local government employees who spoke under anonymity said collecting the rationed minimum wage has further increased their sufferings, “When the price of commodities has skyrocketed.”

An employee of one of the LGAS said life was becoming difficult daily as he was living in perpetual debt.

“It is not easy as we are always in debt, we just pay the debt and at the same time collect foodstuff and other items on credit, pending when the government decided to start paying us the minimum wage,” he complained.