…Cautions Buhari That Plot May Spell Doom for 2019
…Urges President to Hasten Transmission of Wage Bill to NASS
Leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress has raised the alarm of plot by some members of the Nigerian Governors Forum to thwart the implementation of the proposed national minimum wage through retrenchment of their workforce.
Labour also cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari not to toll the line of the governors as their actions may spell doom for candidates seeking elective offices in 2019.
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba sounded the note of warning to the presidency on Thursday, insisting that any attempt to deviate from the recommended N30,000 by the national tripartite committee would be resisted by the workers.
The NLC’s statement came in reaction to threats by the Nigerian Governors Forum that the new minimum wage may lead to retrenchment of workers in the course of implementation particularly in some of the federating states.
Wabba who particularly directed his verbal attacks on the Chairman of the forum and Governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, wondered why some governors were still not comfortable with the N30,000 wage bill, when a number of states are willing to pay above that.
Buttressing his argument, Wabba said the new wage agreement took on board prevailing economic indices and factors especially as outlined in Convention 131 and Recommendation 95 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Criteria and Procedure for Collective Bargaining especially towards arriving at a National Minimum Wage for any country.
The umbrella labour union, however, urged the Federal Government to expedite the transmission of the wage bill to the National Assembly in view of the controversies still trailing it.
“The attention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Organized Labour, the Working Class, Pensioners, and their families have been drawn to a statement credited to the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Alhaji AbdulazizYari, the Governor of Zamfara State threatening to sack workers on the account of the New National Minimum Wage of N30,000.
“The threat to sack workers is not new in the struggle for review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria. Therefore, the current one by the Governor of Zamfara State cannot be used to intimidate labour. The consequences of workers retrenchment are too grievous for any political office holder truly elected by the people to contemplate;
“We propose that since a few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabeled as salaries, we urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world, pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers. We, therefore, urge each State Governor to go to their respective states and inform workers and their families their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30,000,” he said in a statement released on Thursday.
While explaining the metamorphosis of the new wage bill, Wabba said, “It would interest Nigerians to know that the New National Minimum Wage of N30,000 was a product of intense and robust negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee that lasted for one year between November 2017 to November 2018.
“At the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, State governments were represented by six states, one state from each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. A letter was sent by the Tripartite Committee to every state to send in their memorandum as their input to the national minimum wage negotiations. It is on record that 21 States responded by sending memoranda with figures.
“Subsequently, public hearings were conducted in each of the geopolitical zones in the country. The State governments were all represented at the zonal hearings and made their input to discussions towards a new national minimum wage. The demand of organized labour was N66,500.
“From the memoranda submitted to the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee by State governments, there were proposals by some states to even pay higher than the negotiated national minimum wage of N30,000.
“After extended and extensive negotiations by the Tripartite Committee, a final compromise figure of N30,000 was agreed by all the partners – Government, Organized Labour and Employers in the Private Sector.
“It was on the basis of this agreement that the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee concluded its work and submitted its Report to Mr. President on the 6th of November, 2018. This ended the process of negotiations for a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
“The statement of Mr. Abdulaziz Yari purportedly for the Nigeria Governors Forum, one year after the inauguration of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, is certainly an after-thought and has no place in the collective bargaining process.
“We understand that Mr. Yari’s position is at the instance of a few anti-worker governors. We are not in any doubt that many worker-friendly governors are ready to pay even higher than the negotiated N30,000 new national minimum wage”.
Recall that before the tripartite committee settled for N30,000 which they later recommended to the Executive for implementation, governors had proposed to pay N22,500. They had insisted that their major challenge would be how to source the funds to meet the new wage bill.