Non-payment of salaries criminal – Oshiomole

Non-payment of salaries criminal – Oshiomole
August 11 05:50 2016

Edo state governor,  Adams Oshiomhole has described as criminal the inability or refusal of some employers of labour to pay the wages of their employers as at when due.

The former labour leader decried the challenges faced by workers all over the country, saying all governments  must maintain a
national minimum wage.

Oshiomhole said this on Wednesday during a
forum tagged ‘The Podium’.

The programme, organized by The Kukah
Centre in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, seeks an interface between the
electorate and policy makers.

It was held in Abuja with the theme: “From
Activism to Political Power: The Challenges of
Democratic Governance in Nigeria”.

According to Oshiomhole, a labourer is worthy of his
wages, meaning if an employer is owing, he is
breaching a contract.

“’This is where I’m different. I still insist any
government who wants to be taken seriously must
have a national minimum wage.
“We must maintain a national minimum wage, look for
ways to increase it; that is what I still advocate for.”
Giving an informal account of his stewardship and why
he carried out most of his actions, the governor said he
stayed true to his activism years by not owing salaries.

He added that as a former factory worker himself,
he understood the importance of wages and that was
why he increased workers salaries in Edo by 38 per
cent.

“Activism is not synonymous with being progressive. I
believe we should all be idealistic and not dismiss the
possibility of an ideal society.

“One man’s idealism is another man’s reality. Wages
paid to people is not burden.

“In Edo we increased it to 38 per cent and I’m proud to
still pay before the last day of every month.”
He explained that complaints about salaries from the
state were mostly about the 18 months pension arrears
he inherited and the inability of local governments to
pay their staff.

“We respect the autonomy of the Local Government
but we insisted that if they cannot do environmental
sanitation, waste management, grading rural roads,
cleaning up the market at least you must pay the
teachers’ salaries.

“So I am not responsible for non-payment at that level.
Non-payment of wages is a criminal breach in the law
of contract.

“You can pay daily, weekly, monthly but not in excess
of 30 days, you are breaching the agreement.”

Oshiomhole said as an activist he was in governance to
know the ropes, know how to help people and counter
concepts like god-fatherism in politics.

“I have been militant, will remain a militant and retire a
militant not with guns. I don’t burst pipelines but we
must react to sayings like the ‘if you can’t beat them
join them’.”

The Chairman of the occasion, former Gov. Donald
Duke of Cross River state, said the society should pursue improvement rather than change.

“Sadly politicians in our society are merely jobbers and
budget padders. We advocate improvement and not
change.

“We had a violent change in 1966, so change is not
necessarily the way to go. Improvements however
makes things happen, develops societies and affects
the people positively.”

Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Convener of the event, said
the essence of the forum was to design programmes
that encourage debate and free exchange of ideas.
“To serve as a mediating platform between the
government, citizens and communities.
“Also, to enhance the quality of leadership training at
all levels both in the public and non-governmental
sectors.”