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Minimum wage: Transfer to concurrent list won’t work – FG



By Joan Nwagwu

The Federal Government has assured workers that the transfer of the National Minimum Wage from the Executive to Concurrent list would not work.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, gave the hint at the 2021 May Day celebration, on Saturday in Abuja.

The theme of the May Day celebration is: “COVID-19, Social and Economic Crises;  Challenges for Decent Work, Social Protection and Peoples Welfare”.

Ngige said that the new minimum wage was a national law, which would not be manipulated by anyone.

“A tripartite clause arrangement which coordinated the government enacting the national minimum wage on April 18, 2019, and the President in signing the law, made it clear that the law takes effect on that day.

“That law is a national law, it is not that which you can choose for anybody that falls within the ambit of that law. It is not a question of pick and choose.

”We moved the national minimum wage from 18,000 per month to 30,000; it is an irreducible clause and we need a social protection mechanism.

“We therefore expect the states and people in the private sector to comply. Amendment of trying to expand that law or trying to bring the law into the concurrent list of the institution will not work,” he said.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had  eariler said that any attempt to remove the national minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List was a mischievous effort to foster crisis, chaos and anarchy in the country.

Wabba said that the national minimum wage served as social protection by providing a mimimum income floors to safeguard low earners.

”Our argument for the retention of the national minimum wage on the exclusive legislative list is to also propel the fact that the minimum wage is a tool for social inclusion and proverty reduction,

“For Nigerian workers, it has been a catalogue of workplace and trade union rights violations.

”First is the criminal refusal by some state governors to pay the new national minimum wage and consequential increase in salaries, thus violating workers’ rights.

“We have already directed all our state councils to down tool if any governor remains adamant about paying the new national minimum wage,” he said.

The NLC president noted that the theme for this year’s celebration was apt, as Nigeria failed to protect its citizenry especially workers, from the daunting challenges occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that a recent research by Nigerian scholars said that the COVID-19 inspired lockdown threw an estimated 27 million Nigerians into poverty, ballooning the community of the working poor in Nigeria.

According to him, this revealed that workers are the major targets of the growing insecurity across the country.

The NLC boss further stated  that in spite of efforts by government and private sector employers, millions of Nigerian workers had lost their means of livelihood and slipped into destitution, lack and misery.

Wabba added that the weakness of the social protection system further aggravated the pain and frustration of workers.

He noted that the recent unemployment statistics of 33.3 per cent as released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), occasioned by the pandemic and arbitrary sack of workers by some state governors, had further driven the spate of insecurity being witnessed.

“Human insecurity as marked by mass unemployment is the main driver for the physical insecurity besieging our dear country.

“Part of the challenge of unemployment and insecurity is the crisis of poor governance. Weak budgets that led to poor appropriations and poorer budgetary oversight is the bane of our development.

“It is unfortunate and a terrible injustice to the memory of Nigeria’s founding fathers, that virtually every part of the country has been engulfed by one form of security challenge or the other,” he said.

Wabba, while however commending the efforts of the nation’s security apparatus, called for increased efforts and routing of security votes, through the normal budgetary process for proper oversight and accountability.

On casualisation of workers, he urged government and private employers of labour to end the slavery of workers by consolidating the milestones already gained in the current labour law review.

Wabba also said that Nigerian workers reject any further hike in electricity tariff, while calling for adjustments to the gas price for the power sector, suspension of gas price increases, for the next three years in order to support electricity tariff stability.

“It is clear that the factors fuelling incessant hike in electricity tariff such as the dollarisation of gas used by GENCOs to run our power stations are issues that government can control.

“As we speak, the promise by government to force DISCOs to mass deploy meters has been poorly pursued as pre-paid meters are still hoarded by DISCOs and sold at high price to frustrated consumers.

”It is on this premise that we say no to further increases in electricity tariff,” he said.

He also raised concerns over Nigeria’s high debt profile, saying that the bulk of the adverse implications of the unreasonable risks usually affects common Nigerians and workers the most.


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