The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) will oppose any move to tamper with legitimately earned salaries of workers in guise of implementing the new minimum wage, its President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, has warned.
Wabba’s warning followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement that workers, who presently earn N30,000, would also have their salaries reviewed in accordance with the new minimum wage.
Speaking with The Nation, Wabba rejected the President’s position, saying that there was no basis for such move.
He said there was nowhere in the world that an introduction of new minimum wage would cause a reduction in earned wages by workers.
Wabba said: “That is not the principle behind the minimum wage and the technical committee is simply a government committee. It is their internal mechanism. I am not so sure that minimum wage is about reducing workers’ wages.
“If they have earned their salaries legitimately, there is no way the minimum wage can reduce it. In fact, the minimum wage is about empowering workers and improving on what they collect. I don’t think that decision is right because every salary a worker earns is legitimately negotiated on the table.
“I think what they need to do is to reduce salaries of political office holders, those that are collecting salaries that are not appropriated or salaries that are humongous. We know the wastages are the security votes and the high cost of governance.”
On the feasibility of government’s assurances to labour that it would transmit the Bill for the N30,000 new minimum wage to the National Assembly, Wabba said there was every reason to believe that such would happen.
He said the information at the disposal of labour was that the National Assembly will be resuming from recess on January 16 and that they will be ready to receive the minimum wage bill on that day.
According to Wabba, the labour movement has been assured that the lawmakers would make the opportunity available for the government to submit the bill within the stipulated period.
He said: “What we have found out is that they will be in office on that day and that is what we are banking on. They are resuming on the January 16th and they cannot resume on that day and again proceed for recess. It is not possible.
“We have taken that into consideration to say that on or before January 23, the government should submit the Bill. It is an agreement that was signed by three ministers – that of Finance, Budget and Planning and Labour and Employment. NLC and TUC signed on behalf of labour.”