Kwara State Governor AbdulRaman AbdulRazaq on Thursday bagged the honorary Fellowship of the National Labour Institute (FNLS), an award labour leaders said the Governor truly deserves for his workers’ friendly policies and programmes.
The conferment of the award was part of the activities to mark the 40th year anniversary of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies’ (MINILS) Ilorin, Kwara State.
The award, according to the Institute, was in recognition of the Governor’s exceptional commitment to workers’ welfare and how he maintains a goodwill with the labour leaders in the state.
AbdulRazaq, in turn, reassured the labour unions of his administration’s resolve to sustain the existing good working relationships, seeking an improved engagement with the union leaders.
He congratulated the Institute on its 40th anniversary and appreciated them for the honour.
“Let me first of all congratulate the new executives of the NLC. We look forward to a robust engagement with you. You would see that the state didn’t interfere in the election, and a proper representation has emerged for the labour union. It is a disservice to the state and the people when the government interferes with the leadership of the union. This is why we don’t do it,” he said.
“I thank the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies for this investiture. I have been there twice. I am a great supporter of the institute and of the labour unions.”
The Governor tasked the union leaders to get prepared for a positive interface with regard to legitimacy of the new minimum wage in the face of high inflation in the country.
AbdulRazaq again declared that the government will not sack workers as doing so offers no sustainable benefits to the state and the workers.
He said it is costlier to retrench workers because of its negative implications for the economy and societal cohesion.
“We take workers’ interests seriously. As a state, since when we came in, we ensure that salaries are paid as and when due, and we are paying the #30,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustment component. Can we improve on that? Yes, we can. With proper negotiation and exchanges of goodwill, we can do that. This is something that Asiwaju will do and this will cascade to the state level.
“Let me also assure the state workers that, God willing, when we come back (re-elected), we shall not be sacking any worker. It is important to say that. It costs us more to sack workers than to keep them in their jobs, because when we sack workers, we still have to pay their gratuities and pension, among other costs.
“So it is better for the workers to stay in their jobs. We are also working on increasing the retirement ages of our teachers as well. That will be looked into very soon. We are also looking in the direction of the private sector to create more jobs. Like I said, we are looking forward to a robust engagement and good working relationship with the labour.
“The APC government is a very serious government. The President-elect (Asiwaju Tinubu) has stated his plans for the labour union. So, it is time for you to brace up and organise yourself because we will definitely make a case for the new minimum wage. All the indices have shown that inflation has truly eaten deep into your wages and welfare packages.
“And we are lucky to have the president-elect that will listen carefully to your articulated position. This is the time for all affiliates to escalate their demands to the executive through the national labour unions to make sure a proper representation is made by labour to the incoming President of Nigeria.”
The event was well attended by government officials and various labour union leaders, including the Kwara State Head of Service Mrs Modupe Susan Oluwole; Director General of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) Comrade Issa Aremu; Special Adviser to the Governor on Strategy Alhaji Saadu Salau; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour Matters Comrade Abdulmumin Onagun; former Deputy National President for NLC Alhaji Najeemdeen Yasin;
State NLC Chairman, Comrade Olayinka Muritala; TUC Chairman Comrade Joseph Tunde; JNC Chairman Comrade Salihu Suleiman; and former state NLC Chairman Comrade Isa Ore; among others.
Comrade Aremu, on his part, said the award was considered necessary to appreciate the Governor’s commitment to workers’ welfare, his consistent payment of the minimum wage, and how he paves the way for freedom of association among the workers and union leaders in the state.
“He has been very consistent in ensuring the implementation of promotion arrears of all categories of workers who deserved it. Then, His Excellency, a person of courage, has also given due attention to mass employment of various categories of workers, namely teachers, health professionals, and civil servants of various cadres. This Governor is also committed to the training and retraining of civil servants in the state, and of course, he knows the mandate of our institute is to improve the capacity of workers,” he said.
“His Excellency has also improved the working environment within the shortest time of his one term in office. Then, another point that is critical to us is that the Governor is also committed to freedom of association. Under him, the labour union has been organizing and holding different demonstrations and various events like May day, delegates, conferences and without freedom there cannot be trade unions, and if there are no trade unions, workers’ interest cannot be protected. Once again, we appreciate him.”