NLC calls crucial meeting, dares Nigerian govt on minimum wage, ‘no work, no pay’

From Left: Sunday Salako, 1st deputy president TUC, Musa Lawal, Secretary General TUC, Ayuba Wabba, NLC
From Left: Sunday Salako, 1st deputy president TUC, Musa Lawal, Secretary General TUC, Ayuba Wabba, NLC

Following the federal government’s announcement that it has proposed N24,000 as the minimum wage for civil servants after consultations, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) said it will hold an emergency meeting next week to take a decision.

The general secretary of NLC, Peter Ozo-Esan, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night said the committee adopted (through a motion) to recommend N30,000 naira as the minimum wage and that motion was moved and seconded by members from the labour union and the employers’ representatives.

The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, on October 10 after Federal Executive Council meeting debunked media reports quoting the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba that the tri-partite committee discussing the demand for new minimum wage has agreed to increase it from the current N19,200 to N30,000.

“Such information is not true,” Mr Ngige said

But Mr Ozo-Esan said the tripartite committee adopted a figure and “that is the only relevant thing in the issue”.

“If Ngige is manufacturing something that was not agreed at the table, that is his problem. We have called our organs for an emergency meeting that will hold next week and the next step will be taken from there. We have no business with Ngige’s falsehood and his falsified process of the committee work,” he said.

Earlier, the national president of United Labour Congress (ULC), Joe Ajaero, on October 16 said the labour unions would not sign any agreement with the federal government on new National Minimum Wage if it is less than N30,000.
“N24,000 can never be the new Minimum Wage for workers. If the government pays it, then it is an award,” Mr Ajaero said.

Mr Ajaero said the tripartite committee agreed that N30,000 would be paid at the end of its negotiations

He said it was sad that N30,000 was adopted by the tripartite committee “but the representatives of government announced N24, 000”.

The labour leader said the unions would stand against it and would not sign any document, which does not reflect the true deliberation by the tripartite committee.

The NLC had initially proposed a N50,000 minimum wage for workers, a move opposed by many state governors, many of whom are unable to regularly pay the current N18,000 minimum wage.

No Work, No Pay

Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved the implementation of the no-work, no pay principle for striking workers.

Mr Wabba has however said the federal government cannot apply the’ no work no pay’ rule in isolation of other provisions of the law that allow the rule.

Mr Wabba in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night said it is morally and legally wrong to apply a phrase of the law in a body of law without respecting all other provisions of the law.

He said the threat to ‘no work no pay’ cannot deter workers and trade unions from exercising the right to strike or demanding for a new minimum wage noting that there are clear procedures provided by the law.

Mr Wabba said the same law being quoted provides that a workers wage is due after 30 days and collective bargaining agreement needs have to be respected.

“Therefore, morally and legally, it is justifiable to apply no pay, no work where the law is violated. The right to strike is a human and trade union right and cannot be wished away, that is why strike is legalised by the same law they are quoting in the trade union act and has been exercised since the colonial era till date,” he said .

The NLC president said the issue of ‘ no work, no pay’ cannot apply once the legal requirements for embarking on a strike are met.

“The right to strike is what differentiates a worker from a slave, just like the right to strike, the right to work, the right to protest and peaceful assembly. The same law provides that the union must give notice and reason for their action to proceed on strike, either 7 days , 14 days or 21 days,” Mr Wabba said.

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