Says governors not empowered by law to decide minimum wage
The offer by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to pay workers N22, 500 as minimum wage has irked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which has now gone back to N66, 000 it had earlier demanded.
It would be recalled that the chairman of NGF, Mr. Abdul’ Aziz Yari had announced on Tuesday that the states could only pay N22, 500 to workers because of the present economic realities had proposed N24, 000 while the organised labour had settled for N30, 000.
Addressing a world press Conference Wednesday in Abuja on Wednesday, the president of NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba rejected the NGF offer saying workers would now demand N66, 500.
He said if the federal government and governors continued to advance their own figures outside the N30, 000 mutually agreed and signed by the tripartite committee at the end of its negotiations, labour would be forced to revert to its initial demand of N66, 500 as new wage for workers.
“If everybody will revert to the free operation of figures; if federal government will begin to advance figures; if state governors will begin to advance figures, what will stop labour from bringing back the figure that was initially put on the table?
“The demand of organized labour is not N30, 000. Our demand is N66, 500. N30, 000 is the compromise figure arrived at, at the end of negotiations by the tripartite partners – government, employers and organized labour. The new minimum wage was a product of intense negotiations that lasted for almost one year.
“We wish to reiterate our position adopted at our national executive council meeting of October 23rd, 2018 that any figure below N30, 000 will not be accepted by us.
“We call on our members to continue to mobilise in preparation for the commencement of an indefinite strike on the 6th of November, 2018, if by then necessary steps have not been taken to adopt the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee. Our workers are resolute, our unions are resolute; there must be fairness, justice. There must be respect for the rule of law,” he said.
He said the NGF is not a negotiating body but merely a political organisation for the convenience of state governors.
He added that the N22, 500 offer “is an abuse of every known principle of industrial relations, labour laws, processes and international best practices.”
“The unilateral pronouncement by governors of N22, 500 minimum wage is an abuse of every known principle of industrial relations, labour laws, processes and international best practices.
“At this point, labour needs to reiterate that the allocation or award of N22, 500 is hereby rejected. It has no place in collective bargaining process. We wish to reiterate our position adopted at our national executive council (NEC) meeting of October 23, 2018, that any figure below N30, 000 will not be accepted by us.
“The tripartite committee from inception sent letters to each state government to send in their memoranda as their contributions to the new national minimum wage negotiating process. Twenty one states sent in their memorandum quoting figures.
“They also quoted figures individually because what the law recognises is individual state as entities that can negotiate in a process of collective bargaining and therefore that opportunity was not available for them to utilize.
“The governors had six representatives on the Tripartite Committee in which one state governor represented each of the geo-political zones. The representatives of the state governors were part of the work of the negotiating committee from beginning to the end,” he said.
For its part, national executive council of Trade Union Congress (TUC) said state governors by law are not empowered to solely negotiate minimum wage for workers.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting in Lagos on Wednesday, TUC rejected the N22, 000 offered by the governors.
It said it rejected the amount on the grounds that the NGF is not an established body empowered to negotiate new minimum wage.
The Congress noted that the committee had concluded its job and came up with N30, 000 stressing that “TUC stands by this decision.”
The NEC condemned in totality the statement credited to some quarters that the Tripartite Committee on minimum wage did not agree on N30,000,” describing it as travesty of history.
TUC said it aligned itself with the position of the organised labour to commence nationwide strike on the November 6, 2018 in the event of failure by government to accept N30, 000 as the national minimum wage.