Minimum Wage: Nigeria workers union gives Senate ultimatum

Nigeria's Senate Chamber, otherwise known as the Red Chamber

The Trade Union Congress, TUC, on Saturday gave the Senate seven days ultimatum to clarify its position on the removal of Minimum Wages Laws from the Exclusive List or face the wrath of its members.

The Congress in a communiqué jointly signed by its President, Bobboi Kaigam, and the National Secretary, Musa Lawal, said the clarification was necessary before a follow-up action.

The communiqué was coming at the end of an emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee, CWC, of the Congress in Lagos.

The alleged amendment by the Senate, the Congress noted, if allowed to stand, portends a number of undesirable consequences.

According to the communiqué, the CWC observed that there were conflicting reports as to the true state of affairs over the issue, pointing out that that informed why the leadership of the National Assembly should clarify the true position of the amendment within one week.

“We say `NO’ to the minimum wage deregulation and we will resist the attempt with our capacity,” the Congress declared.

At the end of the meeting, the session mandated the leadership of Congress to liaise with the other labour centres, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and allies in civil society organisations, to mobilise without further delay for a follow-up action.

The Congress was of the view that the purported amendment would create a chaotic and potentially destabilising industrial relations environment in the country.

“Politics will be introduced into wage determination, in particular during elections, as was the case in the First Republic among Regional Governments,” it said.

It pointed out that minimum wage, which is a product of collective bargaining, should not be made a state law, because both the private and public sectors were involved.

The communiqué also stated that the amendments would negate the spirit and practice of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 131, which Nigeria domesticated in the 1979 Constitution.

The Congress said while one week was given to the lawmakers to clarify their position on the issue, the mobilisation of its members has commenced.

At the expiration of the one week notice, the Congress said there would be follow-up action and after that nothing more.

“We will not get back to them anymore. We want the Senate to be very explicit,’’ the TUC said.

While commending the House of Representatives for voting to retain the minimum wage on the exclusive list in its amendment, the Congress expressed disappointment that the Senate had to decide otherwise.

If the minimum wage is removed from the exclusive list in the Constitution, states of the federation and individual employers would be empowered to decide on and set their own minimum wage independent of the national minimum wage structure.

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