Labour rejects FG’s plan to set up technical committee on minimum wage


The organised labour on Thursday rejected the plan by the federal government to said set up a high powered technical committee to advise it (government) on ways of funding an increase in the minimum wage.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had, at the presentation of the 2019 budget estimates to a joint session of the national assembly on Wednesday disclosed that “we have included provisions for the implementation of a new national minimum wage” but there would be a committee to advise government on how to go about it.

“Let me say something about the minimum wage issue. I am committed to addressing the issue of a new minimum wage and I will be sending a bill to the National Assembly on this. However, in order to avoid a fiscal crisis for the Federal Government, as well as the States, it is important to devise ways to ensure that its implementation does not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.

“I am accordingly setting up a high powered technical committee to advise on ways of funding an increase in the minimum wage, and the attendant wage adjustments, without having to resort to additional borrowings.

“The work of this technical committee will be the basis of a finance bill which will be submitted to the national assembly, alongside the Minimum Wage Bill. In addition, the technical committee will recommend modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage in such a manner as to minimize its inflationary impact, as well as ensure that its introduction does not lead to job losses.”

But three labour centres, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) said after a joint meeting in Lagos that it rejected the proposal saying setting up a technical committee could not be a condition for submitting the minimum wage report to the national assembly.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, the NLC president, Mr. Ayuba Wabba gave the federal government before or on December 31 to send the tripartite committee report on N30, 000 minimum wage to the national assembly.

He said the organised labour would not guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if the wage report was not passed for implementation on or before Dec. 31.

“We reject in its entirety the plan to set up another `high powered technical committee’ on the minimum wage. It is diversionary and a delay tactics.

“The national minimum wage committee was both technical and all-encompassing in its compositions and plan to set up a technical committee is alien to the tripartite process.

“It is also alien to the International Labour Organisation’s convention on national minimum wage setting mechanism,’’ he said.

Wabba said that issues on payment of minimum wage is a law that is universal, saying some other African countries like, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa had increased their minimum wage this year.

“If you increase minimum wage, you are increasing the purchasing power of the economy which will help to reduce inflation rather than increase it,” he said.

He urged workers to be vigilant and prepare to campaign and vote against candidates and politicians who are not willing to implement the new minimum wage.

For his part, the ULC president, Mr. Joe Ajaero, called on the government to send the report to the lawmakers so that the implementation of the new minimum wage report would begin without delay.

Ajaero said all affiliate members of the organised labour had been informed to be alert ahead of the December 31 notice if the government failed to submit the report.


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