Politics

Minimum wage: Labour rejects govs bid to take over negotiations

Govs unfriendly, some states but to pay N30, 000 authorized 5 years in the past – NLC

States ought to be allowed to barter with staff, govs insist

Organised Labour, together with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, has rejected the proposal of the Southern Governors’ Forum to decentralise minimal wage negotiations to state governments.

The NLC condemned the proposal as “unfriendly and anti-worker”, noting that permitting states to find out their minimal wages can be detrimental to staff’ welfare.

On Friday, The PUNCH had reported that the Southern Governors’ Forum looked for states to be allowed to barter the minimal wage for staff independently. At the top of a gathering held on Monday on the Ogun State Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta, the discussion board resolved that wages ought to be reflective of the price of dwelling.

This was revealed in a communique issued from the assembly and signed by the newly-appointed Chairman of the discussion board, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State; and Vice-Chairman, Prof Charles Soludo of Anambra State.

The assembly was attended by Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Godwin Obaseki of Edo; Hope Uzodinma of Imo; Abiodun Oyebanji of Ekiti; Duoye Diri of Bayelsa; Ademola Adeleke of Osun; Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom; Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers; and Bassey Otu of Cross River.

Other attendees included Governors Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State; Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo; Peter Mbah of Enugu; Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State; and Alex Otti of Abia State.

“The forum discussed the minimum wage demanded by Labour and unanimously agreed that the minimum wage should be reflective of the cost of living, and that each state should be allowed to negotiate its minimum wage,” the communique acknowledged.

Meanwhile, the Presidency had on Monday appealed to Nigerians to not put pointless strain on the President, assuring them that the Federal Government would transmit the proposed invoice on the brand new minimal wage to the National Assembly as soon as it was prepared.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, made the plea in a terse assertion despatched to The PUNCH on Thursday.

“People should be patient,” he acknowledged.

While Organised Labour is adamant about its N250,000 minimal wage demand, the state governors stated that paying even the N62,000 proposed by the Federal Government would plunge many states into debt.

This was whilst President Bola Tinubu demanded extra time for session on Wednesday.

Labour insists on nationwide minimal wage

Reacting to the proposal of the governors, the National Treasurer of the NLC, Akeem Ambali, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, insisted that the governors had no energy to barter the brand new minimal wage.

He added that the governors had been compelled by legislation to implement the brand new nationwide minimal wage. Ambali suggested the governors to cease making an attempt to strong-arm the Federal Government and labour with their request to barter with labour individually, and slightly concentrate on how they’d implement the nationwide minimal wage when it’s authorized.

Ambali famous that it was regrettable that labour needed to at all times resort to strike actions to get the federal government to yield to its calls for. He requested the governors make public how a lot they earn, and topic it to negotiations.

He stated, “Traditionally, the minimal wage is a nationwide problem; it’s not a sub-national negotiation. That is the essence of the Minimum Wage Act, and the legislation is obvious. Governors don’t have the facility to barter the minimal wage. What they’ll solely negotiate are different allowances, however the minimal wage is a social safety content material, and it’s not solely relevant to Nigeria.

“My advice for the governors is that they should prepare their balance sheet and look at how to implement the national minimum wage once it is approved. They should not stress themselves with the issue of negotiating with Labour on a state level. After all, we have seen what happened in Zamfara, where they refused to pay the current minimum wage (N30,000) until Labour issued an ultimatum, and they quickly started paying. Some states are still not paying the current minimum wage. We know what happened in Anambra, which is the state of the Vice Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Charles Soludo. When you look at all that, you will realise that some of them (governors) may not have good intentions. In fact, the majority of them are not labour-friendly and they are not pro-workers.”

Ambali additional urged President Bola Tinubu to go forward and suggest the brand new minimal wage to the National Assembly after session with Organised Labour on the settlement.

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“It is a tripartite committee. Two are on the same page, because they are employers, and the two cumulatively amount to one, because they are both employees. It is only the employees that are agitating, because they are the ones that feel the pinch; they know where it hurts. Mr President should concentrate his energy on engaging Labour with realistic data and statistics, which can be obtained from the Federal Bureau of Statistics. How much does it take to feed a family in a month? We should be guided by that. Once we are able to do that and we are sincere about it, the president can then engage labour, and we will resolve this amicably,” he added.

Speaking on the governors who had been nonetheless defaulting, Ambali stated, “While we commend those who are paying the minimum wage, we also condemn those who are not paying, because they are earning their own fantastic salaries. Maybe the option will eventually be to refer salary payment of governors to the minimum wage as well, so we can also put it up for debate by a committee. Once we are able to do that, nobody will have the effrontery to say they want to first negotiate with workers at the governors’ level”

 The labour chief additionally stated it was trying as if the Organised Private Sector was being influenced by the federal government. He famous that when the negotiations started, the OPS acknowledged that nobody earned lower than N93,000 in any non-public institution. He acknowledged that it was surprising that those self same folks now wished to pay lower than N70,000. He added, “This is because of the influence of some of the governors, who tried to cajole them to fall in line. The OPS, if left on their own, are ready to pay, so all these arguments that they are bringing up are afterthoughts.”

The NLC additional cautioned state governors in opposition to exhibiting dictatorial tendencies. The congress famous that it was compelled to handle the latest statements made by some governors relating to their want to pay what they deemed match to Nigerian staff because the minimal wage.

“This notion is not only dictatorial but also undermines the very essence of having a national minimum wage in Nigeria,” the NLC’s spokesperson, Benson Upah, acknowledged in an announcement despatched to The PUNCH in Abuja.

Explaining the idea of a nationwide minimal wage, Upah famous that it was not an arbitrary choice. He stated, “It represents a national wage floor; a baseline below which no worker should be paid. This threshold is a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker. The governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage negates this principle and threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy.”

Upah careworn that it was necessary to remind the governors that the nationwide minimal wage was not synonymous with the person pay buildings of the states, which they implement religiously, reflecting their distinctive monetary capabilities and circumstances. He additional added that the range in pay buildings underscored the flexibleness that already existed throughout the system, permitting states to reward their staff in alignment with their monetary realities.

“Furthermore, the governors’ argument appears inconsistent when juxtaposed with the remuneration of political office holders. Why is there no hue and cry when political office holders across the nation receive uniform salaries as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission? This double standard, which pits a privileged few against the poor majority, is an issue that should be of concern to those who love this country.”

Caution govs, TUC tells president

Also commenting, the Deputy President of the TUC, Dr Tommy Etim, stated Organised Labour wouldn’t negotiate with governors. In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, he stated, “They are attempting to create an pointless downside the place there’s none. I believe Mr President ought to warning them, as a result of pensions and the minimal wage are constitutional points, and they’re underneath the unique laws.

“If the national minimum wage is approved today, it is incumbent on them to implement it. They can either negotiate it upwards or stop any negotiation, because it is not within their purview. The issue of the national minimum wage is tripartite in nature, and that is what we have done. Once the president ends the consultation, he will definitely send it to the National Assembly for them to legislate on it, so that it will be returned for the president’s assent.”

He added that no state governor had the suitable to barter the minimal wage downwards. “They can only negotiate it upwards. Labour doesn’t even have the right to negotiate the minimum wage with state governors. It is a tripartite committee for a reason.”

Etim additional urged staff to stay resolute and imagine within the negotiation, hopeful that the Federal Government would do the needful.

Govs ought to pay higher wage – Expert

Reacting to the minimal wage problem, an economist and growth skilled, Aliyu Ilias, requested the governors to tread with warning. According to Ilias, the governors should surpass their present stance and decide to implementing the next minimal wage.

He added that regardless of federal subsidies meant to help state funds, the duty lay with state leaders to enhance wage situations.

Ilias stated, “I don’t think the governors have an excuse. They just have to move from where they are and pay better minimum wage. Since the Federal Government has removed subsidy, money is getting to them. There are about 20 million Nigerians working for the government, at federal, state and local government levels. And, we have to consider the private sector too. The private sector may not be able to afford that N62,000. Also, the state governments are very key, as they cannot even pay the N30,000. Some are still paying N18,000.”

Ilias additionally known as for readability from the federal government relating to the position of the Federation Account Allocation Committee in funding wage will increase. He urged concerted efforts between the federal government and labour unions to resolve the continued disagreements, notably noting tensions between the NLC and southern governors.

“Our government should be clear on whether the Federation Account Allocation Committee is part of the reason they are expecting them to pay that salary to that level. I think the tripartite committee needs to work well. And, the president should consult more to have a better resolution,” he stated.

Additional stories: Godfrey George and Deborah Tolu-Kolawole

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