Minimum wage: FG, ASUU, SSANU slam governors’ N22, 500 proposal

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*Ngige, Wabba

Wabba advises governors to dialogue with workers over N30, 000

The minister of labour and productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said that the governors have not done enough concerning their proposal to pay their workers N22, 500 as minimum wage.

The minister’s reaction came 24 hours after the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Abdul-Aziz Yari announced that the governors had  unanimously agreed to pay Nigerian workers N22,500 as the new minimum wage as against the current N18,000.

Yari had explained that before agreeing to a figure, the governors considered the stride of development in their states, particularly in health, education and infrastructure.

While the organised labour insists on N30, 000 as minimum wage, the federal government had agreed to pay N24, 000.

But speaking on a Channels Television programme in Abuja on Wednesday Ngige said: “The governors have not even done enough. I told them that this N22, 500 was even rejected by the federal government,” he said.

Ngige criticised the NGF saying what it propose “is even below the N24, 000 agreement by the federal government.”

“The national minimum wage is a national legislation being driven by the Federal Government of Nigeria in pursuance to item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative list.

“But you don’t go and make a law which people will disobey at the initial.

“If you make a law and hoax a figure that is not agreeable, which people don’t have the capacity or ability to pay because the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says in those negotiations, the principle is the ability to pay,” he added.

For his part, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayuba Wabba, who also appeared on the programme insisted that the governors should dialogue with workers in their state over the N30,000 minimum wage as agreed by the Tripartite Committee.

He faulted the governors’ agreement to pay N22, 500, following an emergency meeting and briefing from the forum’s representatives at the Tripartite Committee.

“Let every state governors go back to their states, gather their workers and tell them if they are willing to pay the N30,000 minimum wage or not.”

Wabba described the resolution of the governors as unknown to labour laws and contrary to the overall decision of the Tripartite Committee.

The NLC leader stated that the Tripartite Committee which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari concluded its negotiations and arrived at the said amount of N30, 000.

He urged the committee to submit its report to the President, who will, in turn, forward it to the national assembly for a public hearing.

Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of the Nigerian Universities (SSANU) said on Wednesday that governors are not sincere with N22, 500 being proposed as the new minimum wage for workers.

The unions in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, described the N22, 500 being proposed by the governors as ‘laughable.’

ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, described the proposal as “laughable” saying “when you look at it vis-a-vis when N18,000 was the minimum wage, what has been the value?

“What has been the devaluation of naira since then; what has also been the rate of inflation since then, what is the general assessment of the situation and the plight of the workers?

“It is laughable because the governors are not sincere and they are not sincere in the sense that they are claiming workers only represent five per cent of the population.

“But is there any worker in Nigeria who does not have at least two dependents or as many as five and even ten dependents.

“So, if the government increases the income of workers it will translate to improved quality of lives for the Nigerian workers.

“So, if they are saying because Nigerian workers represents five per cent and do not deserved a living wage then they are the most insincere persons on earth,” he said.

Ogunyemi called on the political class to look inward and compare their own income with that of the Nigerian workers.

He, however, called on the political class to analysis what was appropriate to pay the ordinary work forces, saying that we must put the issues into proper perspectives.

“In some countries they do not do this usual negotiation, like in Nigeria which comes up on the average of ten years.

“In other places they put the living wage along the line of the rate of inflation in which case it is like automatic.

“That is if the rate of inflation in Nigeria is ten per cent, then you should know that for that year there must be ten per cent increase.

“If we do that on a yearly basis in five years the living wage of some workers will be double,” he said.

He added that the organised labour did not just come up with that figure; they took the average from Africa and West Africa.

“They also came to the conclusion that in West Africa, Nigeria is the least paid and if you translate it into dollar, even the N30, 000 is not up to one hundred dollar,’’ he said.

For his part, SSANU president, Mr. Samson Ugwuoke said N22, 500 proposed by the NGF as minimum wage for workers was unfair.

He said the workers are also human beings and wondered how N22, 500 could sustain any worker with two or four defendants in a month.

“Are they saying that a worker should spend less than N1, 000 per day for food, transportation and even school fees, this is not right.

“I want to say, we join the organised labour to insist on N30, 000 as the new national minimum wage for workers,” he said.

Additional report from NAN

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