Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday received members of the Senior Executive Course 36 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Jos who are on a study tour of the state, restating that a central wage policy is not sustainable in the country.
The governor, who spoke at the Conference Room of the Lagos House, Ikeja where he received the participants who included some Permanent Secretaries in the state who have also undergone the course, added that each state should be allowed to pay what it considers appropriate and sustainable.
He explained that the cost of living differs from state to state just as states do not get the same amount of revenue from the federation account.
According to the governor, it is impracticable to prescribe “a one- size- fits- all” for all the federating states as it concerns salary payment because even if such is forced down the throat of some states, such compulsion would not be sustainable, as states may not be able to cope.
Fashola recalled that the idea of discriminatory wage originated from the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, noting that when it was being paid then, the other regions were paying lesser to their workers.
He explained that each time the state tends to disagree with the clamour for a unified minimum wage, it is not because government is unconcerned about the welfare of its workers because often times it has always led from the front in terms of improved welfare packages for the work force.
Noting that strikes should be the last, rather than the first option, the governor said part of what he finds very worrisome is the fact that even when the state has no industrial issues with its workforce, the workers often join the national body on solidarity strikes thus crippling the system.
Every strike, the governor explained, injures the workers more because the mindset of every employer is resource optimisation and profitability and that when it is reduced, the impact would also be felt by the workers.
The governor informed that according to the law that regulates strikes, there are several conditions such as the holding of a congress by the workers who intend to embark on the strike and the approval of same through the sponsoring of a motion that must be seconded before such a strike can commence.
He said at such congress there must be a record of those who voted to support the strike and those who were against it, adding that on the contrary in some instances, strikes are commenced by union leaders without informing the members of the reasons for such industrial actions.
The governor believed that most of the strikes that are embarked upon will not pass the tests prescribed for regulating such actions by the law but that, as a law abiding government, the state is always expecting that the rules would be applied in terms of strike actions.
He added that although the state is always ready to negotiate with its workers on improved packages, as their welfare remains uppermost, government is also answerable to the larger public in terms of the totality of resources and cannot use all its resources in paying salaries of workers alone.