Labour demands new minimum wage

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja.

A new National Minimum Wage of N56, 000 presented to the government by organized labour in Nigeria will be a cheering news to workers when they converge on the Eagle Square in Abuja and other parts of the country on Sunday to celebrate the 2016 Workers’ Day otherwise known as May Day.

Labour will also be stressing the importance of a platform for continuous dialogue with government, employers and employees as a proactive measure of addressing labour issues.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, Ayuba Wabba, told newsmen that the proposal for the new National Minimum wage by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC, was already before the government since Tuesday.

The two Unions have jointly proposed and presented N56, 000 as the new minimum wage to the Nigerian Government as against the present N18,000.

Comrade Wabba said “I can say now authoritatively that we made a formal proposal to the Nigeria Government of N56, 000 to be the new minimum wage. The demand has been submitted officially to government and we hope that the tripartite system to look at the review will actually be set up.“Our argument is that, yes, it is true that the economy is not doing well, but the law stated that wages for workers must be review after every five years.“So, the issue must be looked into by Government and workers should not be seen as sleeping on their rights.

Review of Minimum Wage
Comrade Wabba further said that the last review of the national minimum wage was done in 2011 and that the setting up of a tripartite committee to review the newly proposed national minimum wage was long overdue.

According to him, it is imperative that government should set up the tripartite committee for the review of the new minimum wage adding that “this is the only way the representatives of unions and government would fashion out the negotiation process at a round table.”

The logic behind the new minimum wage he explained, is to ensure that no worker earns below what can sustain him or her for a period of 30 days.
“You also know that when we negotiated the N18, 000 minimum wage, the value in terms of exchange rate at that time was almost at 110 Naira to the dollar.“But as at today, the value of the Naira to the dollar has been reduced; and there are issues of inflation and purchasing power, among others to contend with.“So, it also about the law of the review of the wage, the law envisaged that within a circle of five years, there must be a review,” Wabba said.

President of NLC thereafter called on the Government to ensure that the issue of the National Minimum Wage was urgently taken on board as a way of fighting corruption in Nigeria.

He noted that if employers failed to cater for their workers’ welfare adequately, it would be difficult for such an employer to fight corruption.

He stressed that workers needed to be empowered financially to have the purchasing power to buy what they would need to survive.

“If manufacturers are producing and nobody is buying, the economy will be at a standstill because people lack the purchasing power to buy. “So, these are some of the issues we will be pushing forward at the negotiation table and there must be a tripartite committee to look at the challenges,” he added.

Confidence O.