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21 states endorse new minimum wage floor, says NLC

21 state governments have endorsed the imperative of a new national minimum wage in the country and have equally sent memoranda to the committee on national minimum wage committee to underscore their readiness to jerk up the minimum wage floor, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.

While faulting the submission of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige who said negotiations have gotten to a ‘sine die’ status because many state governors are not disposed towards a new national wage, the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba explained in Abuja that 12 out of the 22 state governments that sent memoranda to the committee presented working figures.

He explained: “The pronouncement by the Minister of Labour saying the committee has been adjourned sine die indicates government insincerity about the national minimum wage. We can’t take it that since one or two governors or indeed governors’ forum do not support a new wage; it means that most governors do not accept it. Indeed, I can confirm that 22 governors sent in memoranda to the committee with 12 of them accompany it with figures.”

Wabba accused government of taking actions that further pauperise the Nigerian working class since it came to power in 2015.

He said almost three years after increasing fuel price from N87 to N145 per litre and setting up a committee on palliatives that was meant to alleviate the impacts of the increment;government has not implemented the recommendations of the committee.

“It is sad that since government inaugurated the committee on palliative since 2016, it has not done anything to alleviate the suffering of the working class of Nigeria. Not satisfied with fuel increase, this government has increased the electricity tariffs, crash the value of Naira, which has led to increase in rent and school fees, yet there is nothing that has been done to alleviate the suffering of the working class. Now, what represents the hope of Nigerians which is the minimum wage is about to be dashed by this government,” he said.

Wabba, who called on workers to develop interest in who governors them, lambasted political parties for disenfranchising women, youths and the poor from the political process due to high cost of nomination forms.

His words: “We know that the political parties lack any kind of ideologies. That is why Nigeria workers must develop interest in the political process irrespective of political parties. We as workers will vote for personalities especially those that have shown love for the working class. The campaigns going on now are not the kind of campaign we want to see. We want to see issue-based campaign about what affect the ordinary Nigerians. It is very sad that political parties have introduced nomination fees that will prevent women, youths and the poor from seeking political offices. It will also stop well-meaning Nigerians who are poor from contesting.”

The NLC boss condemned arbitrary arrest and intimidation of journalists in the country and urged the media to do their jobs within the ambience of the law.

Wabba lauded the attempt of the Federal Government to stop governors that have not used the Paris refund to pay salaries from assessing the final disbursement while casting governors that said they were not elected to pay salaries.  

He added: “It is unfortunate for any governor to say that he was elected to pay salaries. For us, salaries are not privileges. They are legitimate demand because workers worked for is. Every worker deserves his wages.”

However, he lauded the governors of Yobe, Katsina and Plateau for prioritising the payment of workers every month despite the lean resources at their disposal.

Presenting his view on ‘sine die’, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said the term ‘sine die’ meant postponement without actual date and not that negotiations have reached a dead end as insinuated by the labour movement.

He also added that the his team would be meeting with the Economic Management Team and the state governments within the next two weeks to arrive at a figure that will be presented to the National Assembly for legislative passage.

While explaining that the outcome of his meeting with the governors as well as the Economic team would form the bulk of the minimum wage law that will be presented to the National Assembly, Ngige chided labour movement for blackmailing the Federal Government with a 14-day ultimatum saying such blackmail runs antithetical to the spirit of Nigeria labour laws as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.  

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