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Minimum Wage: N30,000 = N50 Per Meal For Workers —NLC

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Organised Labour in the country on Monday painted a gloomy picture of Nigerian workers and the need for a new National minimum wage, saying the N30,000 recommended by the tripartite committee only translate to meal of N50 for a family of Six and N1000 per day for workers.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, spoke on behalf of Organised Labour Act at the public hearing on a bill for a New National minimum wage.

Comrade Wabba said government alone, being one of the social partners in the tripartite cannot single handedly after the figures agreed to by the tripartite and submitted to government.

Wabba said when the minimum wage was increased to N18,000 in 2011, it was equivalent to 150 dollars.

He added that the N30,000 recommended by the tripartite committee is still less than 100 dollars and appealed to the House of Representatives to increase the figure from the N27,000 contained in the bill to N30,000 as recommended by the tripartite committee.

Wabba said “I remember that in 2017 during the May say pandemonium, the national Assembly made a commitment that when the minimum wage hill is submitted, it will receive accelerated hearing.

“This promise has been kept.

“On this issue of minimum wage, by our data base, 11 million workers will benefit and we know that the law provide for a wife, a husband and four children.

“If you multiple that by 11, there is no economy that will not be boosted. This is why it is very central.

“The ILO recognizes that minimum wage is one of the most used instruments for wealth distribution in the labour market. Intact, minimum wage is provided for by law in 90 percent of countries of the world.

“There has been some misconception about what minimum wage stand for. It is the barest minimum that is allowed to be paid to a worker in both public and private sector.

“When people say we are not supposed to have a minimum wage,  that is not true.

“The United States of America is a federal system. It has a minimum wage of 10 dollars per hour and after that, every state can then pay higher.

“Recently, Microsoft increased its minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour. The principle is that we must protect the most vulnerable worker from exploitation.

“So, it is not about the state, but about the protection of the individual. If you say remove it from the exclusive list and give it to the states, who will fix for the private sector.

“Employer cannot and should not determine single handedly the salary of a worker.

“This is the principle and if you understand the principle, it will be easier to understand the challenges and work towards addressing them.

“The minimum wage was due in 2016 because through the collective bargaining profess of 2011, we all agreed among all the social partners that a five year circle will be used to review the minimum wage.

“Some important economic challenges arose within the period and fuel price increased by about 85 percent and electricity tarrif also increased.

“By the salary has remained static. From our records, minimum wage has never led to increase in inflation. Intact when minimum wage is increase, inflation will drop.

“There are other scenario that has increase inflation rate in the country and one of them is spending during election.

“This is one factor that we must consider because there will be excess liquidity which will trigger inflation.

“By the data presented by the National Bureau of Statistics, there is no where minimum wage has triggered inflation.

“When we signed the N18000 minimum wage, it was equivalent to 150 dollars. Today, it is less than 50 dollars.

“So, the reality is that it is biting hard on the workers and most of them can’t feed their families and can’t even go to work and be productive. This was why we insist on a new minimum wage.

“The issue of tripartite negotiations and social dialogues is an instrument of the ILO proscribing collective bargaining among social partners.

“It also also says that all partners should come to the negotiating table in equal footing. There are also procedures in arriving at the minimum wage.

“In collective bargaining agreement is like a consent judgment where partners sit on a table and agree and what has been agreed is transmitted to government who will make it into a law.

“This document which we all signed agreeing in N30000 was by all the social partners. We looked at all the issues and through the process of negotiation and looking at the economy and ability to pay, labour dropped its demand to N30,000.

“We did not recommend N30,000 but because we want to carry everybody along, and make sure that we considerate, Labour became very responsible and agreed on N30,000 and this document was signed and presented to Mr. President.

“It was agreed to as equal partners and as contained in ILO convention 131, you cannot alter the figures without consulting the social partners involved in the process.

“I remembered that we considered all issues including how to make sure resources are available so that the wages can be paid because we have been on this part for 38 years.

“At every stage of negotiating the minimum wage, the same argument has come up.

“I think we should all sympathies with Nigerian workers. N30,000 translate to N1000 per day and N50 per mill for every member of the family. If you have a family of six, a wife husband and four children, it translate to N50 per mill.

When we heard about the challenges in the state, we asked our state councils to go and engage with their state governors.

“We discussed with 30 state governors and they made commitment that they will pay N30,000.

“The law recognizes individual states and we have attached memos we received from states is attached.

“We accepted the N30,000 so that there will be peace. That was how we arrived at the figures.

“In want to plead that the N30,000 we have agreed on with all the social partners be approved.

“On the bill, we want the figure increased from N27,000 to N30,000. If that is done, it will not be the first.

“When we got the first minimum wage, this House increased the figure from N100 to N125 which was equal to N200 dollars.

“We want the four circles as contained in the bill and we want it included that if there is a major economic development that affects workers salaries negatively or whichever comes first.

“Workers create wealth and should partake in the wealth they create. The work force of any country is an asset to that country.”

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