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New Minimum Wage: ‘Avoid Trouble, You Can’t Say You’re Working On What Is Sustainable’ — Organised Labour Warns State Govs

Sunday 5 May 2024

Nigeria Labour Congress
The Organised Labour, has warned State Governors against inflammatory utterances that could spell issues for the nation’s industrial space.

This is as it faulted the statement credited to the Governors through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, that disclosed they were working on what individual states could sustainably pay for the new national minimum wage.

Labour contended that the Governors must work within the 37-member tripartite committee saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out a new national minimum wage for the country.

According to the Organised Labour, it is being magnanimous with N615,000 new minimum wage’ demand because, based on the socio-economic indices on the ground, it would have demanded much higher which the governors “are more than able to pay.”

Recall that in a statement, last Thursday, by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, at the end of NGF’s virtual meeting, the Governors said, “As members of the committee, we are reviewing our individual fiscal space as State Governments and the consequential impact of various recommendations, to arrive at an improved minimum wage we can pay sustainably.

“We remain committed to the process and promise that better wages will be the invariable outcome of ongoing negotiations.”

Reacting, Tommy Okon, Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, and President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, that Organised Labour believed the Governors were misquoted.

“They can’t say that they are working on what individual states can pay. I think the governors may be talking about what they can add to the minimum wage at the end of the day because what will be agreed upon is the baseline which nobody should pay less than.

“But they can pay higher than that. I think that is what they are saying.

“They cannot be telling us that they are reviewing or setting up a committee to work on what they can pay individually. Two committees cannot be working on the same issue.

“The governors are members of the tripartite committee on the New National Minimum Wage, so they cannot set up another committee or work independently from the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government.

“Maybe the governors are talking about implementation. It is right for the governors to set up an implementation committee. They need to know their staff’s strengths and sources of funds to implement the new wage

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“But to say that they are working on what individual states can pay outside the committee that the Federal Government has set up cannot be correct.

“Do not forget that the governors are members of the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government. So, they cannot do anything outside the committee.

“If what is reported is correct or if the governors own up to the statement as reported, it is a recipe for serious industrial unrest.

“And no nation can accept that because any nation that works like will face unprecedented industrial unrest and can never grow. No nation grows amid industrial chaos.

“We think the governors will tread with caution and avoid inflammatory utterances. We still believe the statement was not from them.”

On its part, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, declined a response, saying it has made a demand before the tripartite committee on the minimum wage and whatever the governors want to say should be brought to the negotiation table since they are members of the committee on the new minimum wage.

However, an anonymous NLC official, told Sunday Vanguard that the Governors are treading on dangerous ground that could set the nation’s industrial space on fire.

“You cannot be talking about reviewing what individual state can pay sustainably outside the committee set up to look out will be the baseline or minimum”, he said. “Whatever opinion you have is what you should bring to the negotiation table. You come to the negotiation table and argue your opinion.

“We do not want to trade words with the governors because they are members.

“(But) they are treading on a dangerous ground that can set the nation’s industrial space on fire.

“We have made our demand which is a very generous one from the breakdown we released on Thursday on the N615,000 demand.

“You can see that we have been very magnanimous. Several expenses, including basic things like recharge cards, entertainment, extended family and others, are missing.

“Don’t forget that this demand was a product of questionnaires we sent out to states and local governments. We did not manufacture it.

“Again, take the issue of electricity which we allocated N20,000 a month. At the time we did it, the electricity tariff had not been adjusted by about 300 per cent. With the adjustment, it has affected nearly every other thing in terms of inflation.

“We know the governors can do much more than what we are demanding. We have passed through this road before.
“The problem with the governors is that they place their aggrandizement far above public good and workers’ welfare.

“That many former governors are facing prosecution by the nation’s anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is a pointer to the fact that governors have the resources to pay much higher than our demand.”

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via: Information Nigeria

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