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Minimum wage: Hope brightens for workers

Posted by Olokede in Metro News, News, Photo Stories, Politics on November 7, 2018

Labour has scaled the first hurdle in its quest for a N30, 000 minimum wage. The committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari has upheld its position.

For workers, it was cheery news. Yesterday, the Tripartite Committee on Nation Minimum Wage upheld Labour’s demand for  N30, 000 for the least paid worker. President Muhammadu Buhari, who received the committee’s report at the Villa in Abuja, pledged his commitment to the recommendation.

The Ms. Ama Pepple-led committee comprising the government (federal and states), Labour and Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed N30, 000 in its report to the President.

The President promised to send a New Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly after presenting the proposal to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Council of State (CoS).

He warned workers against being used as political tools.

The presidential endorsement came after Labour shelved its planned nationwide strike over the matter to ensure its amicable resolution.

The submission of the report was a relief for labour leaders, who had hectic time selling their position to the federal and state governments.

The Federal Government proposed N24, 000 and the states, through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) N22, 500.

 

MAN, LCCI react

 

On the heels of the recommendation, MAN’s

Director-General Segun Ajayi-Kadir said the association was in full in support of the implementation of a new minimum wage notwithstanding the difference in the operational modes of the private and public sectors.

He, however, said the implementation of a new minimum wage will be difficult for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs). Ajayi-Kadir said it will be easy for bigger enterprises as many of them have been paying higher.

He said: “Some chief executives of MSMEs may not be able to take home N30, 000 monthly. How much more their staff? They may adopt some model which may not be favourable to their workers as they can resort to inviting some layers of staff only when they are needed.

“In our advocacy we have consistently complained that our warehouses are stocked with low consumer apathy. The new wage will put money in the hands Nigerians”.

He said the OPS will be looking forward to stability in the labour force.

LCCI Director-General Muda Yusuf who said the private sector has been paying above the minimum expressed the fear that the Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may not meet up with the wage increase.

He said: “There may be different challenges for the SMEs as they may adopt different models for engagement. Rather than keep all their staff, they may rationalise them by only inviting those that they need at a particular time. The big corporations have nothing to worry about as they are already paying the minimum wage.”

He commended the government for working successfully with the private sector and labour to arrive at an acceptable figure and averting crises.

 

Labour unions hailed

 

The Ebonyi State chapter of the NLC commended leaders of the various labour unions for their resilience in the struggle for a living wage for workers.

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State chairman Leonard Nkah described the successful negotiation of a new wage by the leadership of organised labour as a demonstration of good virtues and strength of character.

He, therefore, called on other relevant authorities to expedite action to get the new wage passed into law to enable Nigerian workers to enjoy a living wage.

Nkah said: “The organised labour in Ebonyi just ended its meeting this (yesterday) morning, whereby we extolled the virtues and strength of character exhibited by our national leadership, including the TUC, ULC and NLC.

“We commended them for holding on tenaciously on the new national minimum wage until government came around to accept what had earlier been agreed upon.

“So, we are very happy and we praise the leadership of organised labour in Nigeria for being undaunted in the struggle.”

He opined that once the new national minimum wage was signed into law, that state governors were bound to pay.

His words: “Once the new figure is signed into law, nobody not even the governors, has the powers to say that they cannot pay.

“Anybody who refuses to pay will be going against the law and we don’t envisage that any governor will refuse to pay the new wage once it is signed into law.

“In our own state, the governor has stated his willingness to pay once any amount is agreed upon. Once it comes out, organised labour in various states will approach their various state governors for implementation.

“So, we are hopeful and we are not being negative that governors may not pay the new wage once signed, but if it happens we will rise to the occasion.”

 

Buhari: we’ll transmit Executive Bill to National Assembly for passage

The President’s remarks after receiving the National Minimum Wage Report from the tripartite committee yesterday at the State House in Abuja.

On 27th November 2017, I inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate to recommend a new minimum wage for workers.

This exercise became necessary for many reasons. The last review took place in 2011. We all know since then, the prices of key consumables have increased and the most vulnerable of our workers are struggling to make ends meet.

Since 2011, many changes have taken place. Nigeria rebased its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to become the largest economy in Africa. We reported very strong GDP growth rates and exceptional performance of our capital markets.  However, these reported successes did not flow into the pockets and homes of majority of Nigerians.

In the last three years, we focused on correcting this deficiency. We are working to create a diversified and inclusive economy. We are pushing to clear pension arrears owed to our retired workers with the limited resources available to us.

We supported state governments to pay workers salary. And of course, we set up a committee in order to review the minimum wage of workers.

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In constituting this committee, we took into account the need for all stakeholders to be adequately represented – the government, the private sector and most importantly, the workers. Our goal was to get an outcome that was consensual.

From the outset, we knew the committee had a difficult task ahead of it. But at the same time, we were also confident that the patriotic and professional background of its members would produce realistic, fair and implementable recommendations that will be considered by both the executive and legislative arms of government.

I am not surprised that the committee has worked for close to one year. I am also not surprised that on a few occasions, the debates got heated and sometimes, these differences came out.

What is truly inspiring is that, in almost all instances of disagreements, the committee members always came back to the negotiating table with a common goal of improving the welfare of workers.

On behalf of all Nigerians today, I want to thank you for your commitment and sacrifice in getting us to where we are today.

In the past few days, I have been receiving regular updates on your deliberations. And today, I am pleased that you have completed your work in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner. The entire nation is grateful to you all.

The committee chairman highlighted some of the challenges encountered during your deliberations, especially as it relates to having a consensus position acceptable by all parties.

I understand, on the government side, the concerns raised were around affordability – that today many states struggle to meet their existing salary requirements.

On the side of labour, the points raised focused on the need for any increase to be meaningful.

In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas. Our plan is to transmit the Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time.

I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.

Let me use this opportunity to recognise the leadership of the Organised Labour and private sector as well as representatives of state and federal governments for all your hard work. The fact that we are here today, is a notable achievement.

As the Executive Arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report. I therefore would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.

May I therefore, employ workers and their leaders not to allow themselves to be used as political weapons.

 

The tripartite committee

The Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee had its membership drawn up from the public sector (federal and state governments); Labour (NLC, TUC and ULC); the private sector (the largest private employer group – the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME).

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The panel, which was inaugurated by the President at the Council Chamber of the State House Villa in Abuja on November 27, last year 2017, was chaired by Ms. Pepple, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) and one-time Housing Minister. Labour & Employment Minister Chris Ngige was named as deputy chairman and the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Chief Richard Egbule, as secretary.

In his remarks at the inauguration, President Buhari said: “Government’s decision after considering your final recommendation will be sent as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for it to undergo appropriate legislative scrutiny before passage into law.

“As is evident by the membership of the committee, state governors and private sector employers are part of this process. This will ensure ease of implementation of a new minimum wage nationwide.

“I am hopeful that the principles of full consultation with social partners and their direct participation would be utilised by the committee, bearing in mind the core provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No.26 (ratified by Nigeria).

“Accordingly, conditions of genuine social dialogue should prevail in the spirit of tripartite and collective bargaining agreements. I, therefore, enjoin you all to, collectively bargain in good faith, have mutual recognition for each other and always in a spirit of give and take.”

Besides Ngige, other representatives of the Federal Government are: Budget & National Planning Minister Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; HoCSF Mrs. Winifred E. Oyo-Ita and the Permanent Secretary (General Services) Office, Office of the SGF, Dr. Roy Ugo.

The NGF was represented by governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun, Southwest); Rochas Okorocha (Imo, Southeast); Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe, Northeast); Nyesom Wike (Rivers, Southsouth); Simon Lalong (Plateau, Northcentral) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi, Northwest). The NGF’s Forum’s Director-General A. B. Okauru, was an observer status.

On the trade union side, are: NLC President Ayuba Wabba; Peters Adeyemi (NLC); Kiri Mohammed (NLC); Amechi Asugwuni (NLC) and Peter Ozo-Eson (NLC), the TUC was represented by Bobboi Bala Kaigama (President); Sunday Olusoji Salako; Alade Bashir Lawal; Igwe Achese and Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) president.

On the employers’ side were: NECA’s Director-General Olusegun Oshinowo; Timothy Olawale (NECA); Chuma Nwankwo (NECA); Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) Director-General Mrs. Olubunmi Adekoje; Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) Kaduna East branch Chairman Ahmed Ladan Gobir; Francis Oluwagbenro (MAN); NACCIMA Kano branch President Hajia Muheeba Dankaka and NASME President Degun Agboade.

According to its mandate, the panel was billed to conclude its work and submit its recommendation to the Presidency for onward transmission in form of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for ratification in the third quarter.

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