Edo workers hail Gov. Obaseki over minimum wage increment

Following the economic situation in the country and the impact on the residents of Edo state, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Monday, increased the minimum wage for workers in the state from N40,000 to N70,000.

Obaseki announced this at the inauguration of the newly-built ultramodern Labour House Secretariat Complex on Temboga Road, Ikpoba-Hill, Benin City.

The building was named after a former governor of the state and ex-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Adams Oshiomhole.

Speaking at the event, Governor Obaseki said, “For us in Edo State, we have decided to move the minimum wage from N40,000 to N70,000 effective from May 1, 2024.”

The announcement immediately sparked celebration among the workers as the chairman of the Edo State chapter of the NLC, Odion Olaye, commended the governor for being workers-friendly since he assumed office.

“I commend the governor for increasing the minimum wage from N40,000 to N70,000 and this will help the workers a great deal.

“The increment is coming at a time when the Federal Government is yet to approve a new minimum wage.

“We also commend him for the Labour House he is completing and inaugurating, which will be to the benefit of all trade unions in the state,” the NLC chairman said.

Earlier, Obaseki lauded the labour union for the cordial relationship that they maintained with the state government, adding that he enjoyed industrial harmony in the state.

He said, “As a result of the cordial relationship between the Edo State government and labour unions in the state, we have enjoyed peace and industrial harmony in Edo State.

“Despite our efforts to make life better for Edo State workers, there are forces beyond our control, as we don’t control the national economy and our workers are still languishing in pain and penury.

“I give you insurance, improved conditions of service, pay you and promote you on time but the truth is that because of the economic situation in Nigeria today, our workers continue to be challenged by devaluation, high food prices and inflation which have made nonsense of the N40,000 we are paying you.

“As a government, we feel your pains and know your take-home pay can barely take you home. We will continue to try.

“I am one of those governors who believe that we can’t run away from the fact that we must adjust the minimum wage in Nigeria.

“It would have been nice for there to be a central cohesive and common approach. We would have expected that by now there should have been a direction as to what minimum wage will be for workers in Nigeria.”

The governor said he could not preempt the outcome of the labour union negotiation with the Federal Government over the minimum wage but assured that the state would adjust, if necessary.

He added, “We don’t know when that will happen. If it happens, fine, and if not, as a state, we would need to do what we need to do.

“I think like a capitalist and not a comrade. In my May Day speech, I will give more details on our new minimum wage. If the Federal Government imposes something higher, we will make the necessary adjustments.”

He added, “Labour-government relationship should not be only at policy contestation level, but should be an alignment towards a common goal for workers and that is what we have found in Edo.

“Government and labour have found a common ground to improve the lives of the workers in Edo State.

“This building was conceived by my predecessor in office and my contribution is to make it happen. We have continued to invest in our workers in Edo State and our achievement in Edo State is to contribute to the welfare and well-being of Edo State workers.”

In his speech, the state Head of Service, Dr Anthony Okungbowa, commended the governor’s commitment to the welfare of Edo workers.

He noted some of his achievements as digitalising the state civil service, prompt payment of salaries, payment of 13th-month salary, life insurance for workers, health insurance, automatic employment for first-class citizens, and regular promotion for Edo workers, among others.

The President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, described the building as the best labour edifice, adding that “the achievements of the governor are not contestable.”

He added, “I thank you for digitizing the labour workforce in Edo State. I am impressed by your developmental achievements which have helped to reduce the plight of workers in Edo State.”

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