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Labour, Parties Bicker Over N27,000 Minimum Wage

Labour is to shift its minimum wage struggle to the National Assembly, to lobby the lawmakers to approve N30,000 for workers.

President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC),  Mr Bobboi Kaigama, reacting to the approval   by the National Council of State, government has been locked in negotiations with organised labour since 2016 over a long overdue minimum wage for public sector workers.

“If President Muhammadu Buhari takes the N27, 000 agreed by the National Council of State to the lawmakers, organised labour will provide necessary documents and agreements reached by the tripartite committee to lobby for N30, 000,’’ Kaigama said.

 Labour had swiftly rejected the N27, 000 minimum wage, arguing that the council, made up of former heads of state and key government functionaries lacked jurisdiction on the issue. Public sector workers in Nigeria currently earn some of the lowest wages in the world. But public office holders, including members of the country’s bicameral legislature earn some of the fattest pay checks in the world, according to analysts. A tripartite committee set up by the government on minimum wage sat for one year and recommended N30, 000 but the sum was rejected by many state governors, who said that the sum was too much.

Similarly, President of the United Labour Congress, Mr Joe Ajaero, described the decision by the council of state on the issue as illegal. “If the Federal Government approved the payment of N27,000 to workers, it will be a wage award and not a national minimum wage because it negates the agreement reached by the National Tripartite Committee.’’

He said that this would be the first time the council of state would be playing such a role as recommending a discriminatory minimum wage for the country. Also speaking, the Head of the International Relations Unit of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Uche Ekwe, condemned the council’s decision on the matter.

According to Ekwe, it will be needless for any further meeting either by the council of state or technical committee after the tripartite committee has concluded and reached an agreement. N27,000 minimum wage: Not yet uhuru for workers, Ebonyi NLC declares He said that workers in states, local councils and especially those in the private sector deserved to be paid N30, 000 as minimum wage. Workers in Nigeria currently receive N18, 000 as minimum wage. The figure came into effect in 2011 when former President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law, raising the wage from the previous N7, 500.

Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, Edo chapter, called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to accept the N27, 000 new minimum wage endorsed by the National Council of State in Abuja.

 Chairman of CNPP in the state, Roy Oribhabor, in Benin urged the NLC to accept the new minimum wage as a matter of love and patriotism, in spite of the economic hardship being experienced in the country and emphasised that the appeal became necessary after a critical evaluation of the N27, 000 minimum wage in Nigeria as approved by the NCS.

“In as much as we know things are hard, we solicit for understanding because of the reality on the ground today from some states. We commend the leaders of the NLC for the foresight and determination to provide acceptable wages for Nigerian workers,” Oribhabor said in a statement.

He also called on state governors to be more prudent with management and allocations of resources for the betterment of the people.

“Therefore, transparency and accountability should be their primary concern. Finally, we appeal to labour unions not to allow politicians to use them to advance their agenda to the detriment of the Nigerian State. This is the best time to show understanding and accept the minimum wage because the process of salaries increment is never an ending negotiation, hence our appeal,” he said.

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