Showdown Looms Over Minimum Wage

A few hours after the National of Council of State (NCS) approved the pegging of  the national minimum wage at N27,000 for the least workers in the states and private sector, the organised labour has rejected the proposal.

This is coming at a time the Federal Government offered to pay federal workers N30,000 minimum wage.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the NCS which had in attendance, former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

He said: “The issue of national minimum wage as you are aware, we have had a series of consultations on the new national minimum wage starting from the inauguration of the tripartite committee in September 2017 by Mr. President.

“This committee was to handle all the issues surrounding the new minimum wage. It made use of laws, constitution, conventions on minimum wage fixing and specialist bodies like the National Bureau of Statistics (NISER) and all other bodies that have to do with economic research.

“The Federal Executive Council received the report. After a tortuous debate, at that level, treated it. The NEC comprising the governors and the vice-president chairing, looked at the report and finally today, the NCS.

“These three organs have permitted Mr. President now to transmit to the National Assembly the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

“Thus, in consonance with the fact that the issues of national minimum wage prescription is in the exclusive list, second schedule, item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the executive alone.

“The president has to transmit the bill to the National Assembly and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the president for his assent.

“So, a bill will now be transmitted to the National Assembly that will amend the 1981 Act and 2011 Act. The highlight is what you want to know.

“The figure of N27,000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly. The frequency of the review of the bill is five years, to get it in consonance with pension law of the federation as enshrined in the constitution.

“Exemptions to this bill will be establishments not employing people up to the number of 25. The various times prescribed have also been altered in the bill and will be sent to the National Assembly before the close of work tomorrow (today, Wednesday).”

The Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage chaired by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Ms Amal Pepple, had submitted the report, which contained the recommended figure, to Buhari on November 6, 2018, after many months of deliberations.

Meanwhile, the NCS expressed satisfaction with National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), preparation for the general elections.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said the members expressed satisfaction after the briefing by INEC chairman, Mahmoud Mohammed.

“He informed the council of the preparedness of INEC and everybody in the council was convinced that INEC was ready for this election,” he said.

However, the organised labour yesterday warned the Federal Government against toying with the idea of coming up with two different minimum wage templates.

President of the United Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero said: “Only organ set up to do the negotiation is the Tripartite Committee, which has since submitted its recommendation.

“No party can change the recommendation of the committee. I’m actually surprised that the Council of State can come up to talk on such sensitive issue.

Deputy president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Sunday Salako, who was also in the Tripartite Committee said labour would not accept two minimum wage templates.

“This is the first time that we will be having such proposal, we will only accept only one template as recommended by the tripartite committee,” he said.

(Daily Sun)

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