Labour has scaled the first hurdle in its quest for a N30, 000 minimum wage. The committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari has upheld its position.
For workers, it was cheery news. Yesterday, the Tripartite Committee on Nation Minimum Wage upheld Labour’s demand for N30, 000 for the least paid worker. President Muhammadu Buhari, who received the committee’s report at the Villa in Abuja, pledged his commitment to the recommendation.
The Ms. Ama Pepple-led committee comprising the government (federal and states), Labour and Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed N30, 000 in its report to the President.
The President promised to send a New Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly after presenting the proposal to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Council of State (CoS).
He warned workers against being used as political tools.
The presidential endorsement came after Labour shelved its planned nationwide strike over the matter to ensure its amicable resolution.
The submission of the report was a relief for labour leaders, who had hectic time selling their position to the federal and state governments.
The Federal Government proposed N24, 000 and the states, through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) N22, 500.
On the heels of the recommendation, MAN’s
Director-General Segun Ajayi-Kadir said the association was in full in support of the implementation of a new minimum wage notwithstanding the difference in the operational modes of the private and public sectors.
He, however, said the implementation of a new minimum wage will be difficult for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs). Ajayi-Kadir said it will be easy for bigger enterprises as many of them have been paying higher.
He said: “Some chief executives of MSMEs may not be able to take home N30, 000 monthly. How much more their staff? They may adopt some model which may not be favourable to their workers as they can resort to inviting some layers of staff only when they are needed.
“In our advocacy we have consistently complained that our warehouses are stocked with low consumer apathy. The new wage will put money in the hands Nigerians”.
He said the OPS will be looking forward to stability in the labour force.
LCCI Director-General Muda Yusuf who said the private sector has been paying above the minimum expressed the fear that the Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may not meet up with the wage increase.
He said: “There may be different challenges for the SMEs as they may adopt different models for engagement. Rather than keep all their staff, they may rationalise them by only inviting those that they need at a particular time. The big corporations have nothing to worry about as they are already paying the minimum wage.”
He commended the government for working successfully with the private sector and labour to arrive at an acceptable figure and averting crises.
The Ebonyi State chapter of the NLC commended leaders of the various labour unions for their resilience in the struggle for a living wage for workers.
State chairman Leonard Nkah described the successful negotiation of a new wage by the leadership of organised labour as a demonstration of good virtues and strength of character.
He, therefore, called on other relevant authorities to expedite action to get the new wage passed into law to enable Nigerian workers to enjoy a living wage.
Nkah said: “The organised labour in Ebonyi just ended its meeting this (yesterday) morning, whereby we extolled the virtues and strength of character exhibited by our national leadership, including the TUC, ULC and NLC.
“We commended them for holding on tenaciously on the new national minimum wage until government came around to accept what had earlier been agreed upon.
“So, we are very happy and we praise the leadership of organised labour in Nigeria for being undaunted in the struggle.”
He opined that once the new national minimum wage was signed into law, that state governors were bound to pay.
His words: “Once the new figure is signed into law, nobody not even the governors, has the powers to say that they cannot pay.
“Anybody who refuses to pay will be going against the law and we don’t envisage that any governor will refuse to pay the new wage once it is signed into law.
“In our own state, the governor has stated his willingness to pay once any amount is agreed upon. Once it comes out, organised labour in various states will approach their various state governors for implementation.
“So, we are hopeful and we are not being negative that governors may not pay the new wage once signed, but if it happens we will rise to the occasion.”