Minimum wage: Economy too fragile to withstand Labour strike in January, NECA warns

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The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, yesterday, pleaded with the Federal Government to immediately send a draft bill on the N30,000 new national minimum wage to the National Assembly, NASS, for passage into law to save the nation from the consequences of the strike planned by Organised Labour in January 2019.
The umbrella body for private employers in the country, while decrying the indecisive disposition of the Federal Government towards concluding the process leading to the implementation of a new National Minimum Wage, insisted that “this delay in the completion of the process has led to the proposed strike by Labour, which is totally undesirable and should be avoided.” In a statement its Director General, Mr. Timothy Olawale, NECA said: “Globally, there is a recognized and acceptable process of setting a National Minimum Wage as enshrined in the International Labour Organisation, ILO, Convention 131. This process had been adopted in previous National Minimum Wage setting in Nigeria and was meticulously applied by the National Minimum Wage Committee inaugurated by the President in December, 2017. It was expected that following the submission of the National Minimum Wage Committee’s Report to the President on Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, expedited action would be taken in transmitting a bill to the National Assembly as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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“The President had promised to transmit an Executive bill to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time. It is, therefore worrisome that seven weeks after the submission of the Committee’s Report, Government is planning to subject the Report to another Technical Committee, unknown to the process of setting minimum wage. This delay in the completion of the process has led to the proposed strike by Labour, which is totally undesirable and should be avoided.” Concerned about the negative implication of the proposed strike in January 2019, he continued: “It is worrisome that as a nation whose economy is still reeling under the effects of recent recession, Government would needlessly further drag the economy into avoidable abyss. The colossal loss borne by businesses during the warning strike in September, 2018 was yet to be recovered and further disruption of business activities might sound the death knell for many enterprises.” He averred that with the rate of unemployment as recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, it was expected that all hands would be on deck to ensure the continuous survival of businesses.

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To avert Labour strike and the attendant consequences, he urged that “the President should, without delay, transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly as promised to enable it finalise the process leading to the enactment of a new National Minimum Wage Act. Businesses and the economy at large cannot afford another avoidable strike.” He noted that the Private Sector, which is supposed to be the engine-room of national development, is usually the victim of such strikes. “Businesses are presently encumbered by several challenges and any avoidable Labour action at the beginning of the year or any time whatsoever would be counter-productive, disruptive and would not be welcomed.”

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