The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), at the weekend, vowed to instigate the impeachment of any governor who fails to implement the payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage.
This is coming against the backdrop of the Nigerian Governors Forum’s decision that its members could not be forced to accept the Federal Government’s position on the consequential adjustment concluded two weeks ago.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N30,000 minimum wage law on April 18. After that, labour and government debated on the consequential adjustment on workers’ salaries.
On October 18, both parties agreed on 23.2 per centage increase for workers on grade level 07 and 20 per cent for those on grade level 08, while 19 per cent would be received by workers on grade level 09, 16 per cent for those from levels 10 to 14, and 14 per cent for grade levels 15 to 17.
However, the NGF, last week, said the consequential payments would depend on the capacity of states viz the internally-generated revenue (IGR) of the states, respectively.
The NLC general secretary, Emman Ugboaja, who was a special guest at the opening ceremony of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the National Union of Chemical, Rubber Leather and Non-Metalic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE) in Sango Otta, Ogun State, warned that it was illegal for any governor not to pay the new wage.
Last week, in reaction to the NGF’s position on the payment of N30,000 minimum wage in states, the NLC warned that it would not hesitate to shut down any state that breached the agreement.
Ugboaja said the issue of the new wage with the governors was not going to be a master-servant relationship, adding that the NLC would ensure that all governors pay the new wage and no worker would be shortchanged.
Noting the agony that workers had to pass through on the implementation of the last minimum wage of N18,000, which some states were yet to implement, the NLC general secretary said no governor would be spared this time around, as labour would be well prepared for them.
“We can’t play the script of governors. It’s criminal not to pay wages. Any governor that is not paying wages should be impeached. Nigeria has fixed the new wage and they participated throughout the discussion. So, there’s no basis why any of them would now be coming up with any excuses whatsoever,” he said.
Ugboaja stated that, if the governors can fund their extravagant lifestyle, nothing should stop them from providing for the workers who are doing the jobs that make it possible for them to live in affluence.
“We challenge them, none of them can tell us that they are not riding private jets two to three times in a week. But they can turn around to tell us that payment of N30,000 is a big issue. We are really waiting to see a governor that will dare us by violating the law,” he said.
Ugboaja vowed that congress would also ensure that workers in the private sector and the informal sector are paid the new minimum wage.
“The challenge we have managing the minimum wage is government, not the private sector. You can recall that Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association backed us throughout the negotiation. We will definitely work with the unions in the private sector to ensure compliance,” he said.
Ugboaja noted that, although most of the employers in the private sector were already paying the new wage, there could be some exceptions, especially now that the law has reduced the number of staff from 50 to 25.
He said the problem labour was majorly with government and the casualisation of workers in the country.
He said, “Any good government will assist its workers to have a decent job. But, here, it is still a big challenge. We will need the support of the Ministry of Labour to get the workers unionised and get good wages.
“If any employer flouts the law, it is the function of government to bring them to book. But, as far as we are concerned, we will ensure compliance, irrespective of the status of the employer.”
Ugboaja also said the NLC was prepared in this respect and had inaugurated a separate committee to monitor the progress of negotiations in the states.