Minimum Wage: NLC calls Nigerian governors bluff, dismisses threat to sack workers

Joint NLC, TUC, ULC nationwide protest over alleged recalcitrance of government and employers to pay adequate minimum wage, at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday (30/10/18). 05389/30/10/2018/Deborah Bada/BJO/NAN
Joint NLC, TUC, ULC nationwide protest over alleged recalcitrance of government and employers to pay adequate minimum wage, at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday (30/10/18). 05389/30/10/2018/Deborah Bada/BJO/NAN

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has dismissed the threat by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) that states may have to sack workers if forced to pay N30,000 as minimum wage.

The union said the threat is not new and that workers are standing firm on the figure agreed by the tripartite negotiation team as the new national minimum wage.

The Governor of Zamfara, Abdul’aziz Yari, who is also the chairman of the NGF, said on Wednesday after a NGF meeting that N30,000 minimum wage was impracticable.

He said the proposed figure could only be paid if labour would agree to downsize its workforce across the country “or federal government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.”

Mr Yari said only Lagos State would be able to pay its workers N30,000 as minimum wage.

“Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries now, if you say it should start paying N30, 000, the cost of salary will be N13 billion. “From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay 30,000,” Mr Yari said.

“As Nigerians, this is our country, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country,” the governor said.

Reacting to the governor’s comment through a statement he personally signed, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, on Thursday advised state governors to sacrifice their “huge salaries and allowances” to pay the proposed new minimum wage.

”We propose that since a few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabeled as salaries, we urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world, pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers.

“We, therefore, urge each state governor to go to their respective states and inform workers and their families their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30,000,” Mr Wabba said.

Mr Wabba said the bargaining process for a new minimum wage under the 1999 Constitution only recognises individual states and not the NGF, noting that the states had already defended their positions during negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee.

”The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) recognises individual states in the Collective Bargaining Process NOT Nigeria Governors Forum. The states, like the other social partners, have already defended their positions during negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee vis-à-vis counter proposals,” he stated.

The NLC president urged workers to remain firm in the struggle for a new national minimum wage, adding that Nigerians should vote out any political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000.

”We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000.

”We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labour governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election.

”The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Organised Labour urge workers to remain steadfast and firm on our rights to decent wages and improved living conditions. To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you We will never sleep on our rights!” he said.

Mr Wabba advised Mr Yari to ”desist from using the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum to seek political relevance.

“His tactics of blackmail against workers are already timeworn and the stench is already offensive,” he said.

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