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01 September 2018

Minimum wage: C’ttee to conclude task next week

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has again raised workers’ hope over the early implementation of the new minimum wage, as the tripartite committee set up to handle the assignment concludes its job next week, General Secretary, NLC, Mr Perter Ozo-Esan, said this in Abuja in a statement.

He said in spite of the delay caused by the Sallah break, the tripartite committee involved with the review of the wage would conclude its work on Sept. 4t and 5. “We believe that the initial expectation that by September a new minimum wage should come on board, we think that the government still should be able to deliver that to Nigerians,” he said.

“Nigerian workers will continue to demand that from the government and as soon as this report is submitted government should do the needful before the National Assembly, because that is the process. “We expect that the National Assembly will play its part in speedily considering the bill that will be placed before it and do everything possible for Nigerian workers to have a new minimum wage.’’

On the concerns raised by state governors, Ozo-Esan said that it was not for them to determine what to pay, but that as employers they must comply with the minimum wage as approved by law. “Minimum wage is not fixed for government, it is fixed for employers across the economy whether government or private employer, the law will require you to pay the minimum wage,” he added. “What state governments want does not matter, because this is not a political matter; the minimum wage is the barest minimum that any worker must earn and no employer can go below that.’’

The NLC secretary-general said that state governments mismanaging their funds have no excuse not to pay salaries, adding that Nigerians must start demanding for dividends of democracy from their leaders. “We urge our members to get their voter cards and vote out governors who have shown incapacity to govern,” he added. Discordant tunes over the implementation of the new minimum wage made waves a few weeks ago after the Federal Government reneged on its earlier promise to implement the process by the third quarter of the year.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, had said that the new national minimum wage may not materialise in September as earlier envisaged. He said that the September date was just a date to conclude negotiation on the issue of minimum wage, saying that the committee was making steady progress on its assignment. According to him, the committee on the new National Minimum wage is expected to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval before an executive bill is sent to the National Assembly on the issue.

This was, however, contrary to his position last February that the implementation would begin by September. Similarly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had earlier made a promise at the 2018 May Day celebration that the Federal Government would expedite action to ensure that a new minimum wage is ready by the third quarter of the year. Osinbajo noted that the tripartite committee, comprising the government, labour, and the private sector, would expedite its assignment, to enable the Federal Government to present an executive bill on a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly for passage into law, as soon as possible.

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