Minimum wage: Labour takes case to public hearing

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Labour was at the weekend busy mobilising its members to the public hearing being staged today by the House of Representatives on the National Minimum Wage Bill.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba told reporters at the end of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Friday that Labour had mandated all its affiliates to mobilise en masse to attend the hearing to present their demand.

Wabba said: “We have agreed to mobilise and engage on the issue, particularly at the level of the Nationalist Assembly and that the outcome of the negotiations be respected. We call on members of the National Assembly to do the needful.

”We have also put all our members on alert and if that is not done, we will mobilise to take appropriate action that is desirable to actually protect and ensure the sanctity of the minimum wage tripartite process. That has been the procedure from time past and inn tandem with the ILO provisions on minimum wage setting mechanism.

“We have also agreed that in Monday, we will mobilise and attend the public hearing by the House of Representatives to make sure the right thing is done.

“We call on all of them, being representatives of the people to respect the outcome of the tripartite negotiation process and importantly is the fact that when you look at N30, 000 in the context of today’s economy is a compromise position that ought to be commended.

“Workers have been at the receiving end because when you put it side by side with the value of N18, 000 as far back as 2011 when the value was almost equivalent to 150 dollars. Today, even the N30, 000 is less than 100 dollars.

”We juxtapose all these arguments within the context of the reality on ground and therefore, we must demand that what was agreed mutually when all others have been put into consideration, including the ability to pay and all other factors, I think it should be respected as a tripartite process and a tripartite agreement.”

The National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has mobilised its members to attend the public hearing saying it was in support of the decision by the NLC leadership.

Rising from its National Executive Council meeting, the union said going contrary to the recommended N30, 000 new minimum wage portends serious industrial disharmony which would have dire consequences for the general elections.

Other unions have mobilised to storm the public hearing to restate their position and insist on N30, 000 as agreed to by the tripartite committee, especially against the backdrop of a retraction by the Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige that the N27,000 contained in the bill submitted to the National Assembly was for all category of workers.

The minister had earlier told newsmen that while N27, 000 was to be paid by state government end the public sector, the Federal Government will pay its workers N30, 000.

But in a statement signed by the Assistant Director in the Labour Ministry Illiya Rhoda on Friday, the minister said all categories of workers are to earn the N27, 000 while those who can afford more should negotiate with their workers.

A peep into the minimum wage bill sent to the National Assembly revealed that there was no mention of N30, 000 in the bill.

Ngige had urged those dissatisfied with the N27, 000 to argue their case before the public hearing scheduled for today by the House of Representatives.

The minister said: “As the matter of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List as item No. 34 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), it is therefore the Executive arm of Government that has the responsibility to prescribe a new National Minimum Wage and send to the National Assembly (NASS) for legislative action of getting the Bill passed and/or amended and reverting same to Mr. President for Assent like any other law of the nation.

“It is important therefore, to use this medium to ask the different groups who have interest agreeing or disagreeing on the contents of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Bill already transmitted to NASS, to get ready to make their views known at the Public Hearing.

“We wish the Nigerian workers well and thank the NASS for expeditiously treating the bill by letting it pass the first and second readings in one legislative day and also in setting up an urgent and ad hoc Committee to treat this matter in both Chambers very swiftly”.

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