Labour to demand minimum wage arrears as govs, employers meet Tinubu

Workers will get arrears of their salaries from April 18, 2024 when the minimum wage law expires in the country, irrespective of when a new law is passed, the organised labour has said.....Read The Full Story Here ▶

President Bola Tinubu, governors, organised labour and employers will also meet over the proposed minimum wage before transmission to the National Assembly before passage.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Festus Osifo, disclosed this yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing International Labour Conference (ILC) organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at the Palais du Nation, Geneva, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Financial Derivaatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane, warned against increasing the country’s minimum wage without corresponding productivity.

At a joint briefing on the contentious issue, Ajaero explained that Labour expected the President to invite the tripartite bodies to a meeting where the ability to pay would be discussed before arriving at a final figure.

He said, “We do not expect the President to present a final figure to the National Assembly without consultation with the organised labour, employers and the state governors. Everybody will still come together to discuss before transmission to the National Assembly. We believe that the President, as the father of the nation, will come up with something that can truly be a national minimum wage, and that should be done after consultation with all stakeholders. We are prepared for that before it is transmitted to the National Assembly.”

Osifo added that even after transmission to the National Assembly, Labour would still lobby and push for more in its bid to get the best possible figure for the Nigerian workers.

The Labour leaders denied knowledge of the full content of the report with the President but confirmed that talks were ongoing to arrive at a figure they were expecting from the government as minimum wage.

Ajaero said, “We have not seen the content of what has been submitted to the President. We will insist on seeing the content and appending our signatures on every page. We will not append our signatures on any page we are not comfortable with.

“We cannot say it is this amount until we consult and see what is offered and find out what is good for Nigerian workers. We cannot tell you the final figure. The two of us cannot sit down and tell you what we think the final figure should be, even if we have an idea. As pressure groups, we must push to ensure we get the best for our members.”

Osifo hinted that the NLC and TUC would demand payment of the arrears, even if takes the government months to pass a new national wage law.

GENERAL Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi, said a new style might be adopted in the enforcement of national minimum wage to checkmate recalcitrant state governors.

“I think I will blame the labour movement for not adopting strategies that can cut some of these state governors to size. One of the things Labour might do very soon is to picket any state governor, who refuses to pay the national minimum wage. We will occupy the state until it obeys the law and will move from one state to another.

“That will send a strong message to the others that labour will not sit down and do nothing. Are we not seeing state governors that are buying luxurious cars for those in the National Assembly, even when lawmakers already have N160 million each provided for them to buy cars? Are we not seeing state governors that fly private jets into Abuja, even by those that can access Abuja in under four hours?”

Labour will no longer tolerate non-payment of minimum wage by state governors,” he stated.

Rewane, featuring on Channels Television’s Business Morning segment of Sunrise Daily breakfast programme, yesterday, warned that increasing the country’s minimum wage from N30,000 without an increase in productivity was tantamount to printing more money, which could cause inflationary pressure.

He cited the Minimum Wage Act 2019 signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari, which exempted employees in firms employing less than 25 workers.

The 2019 Act, which expired in April 2024, is to be reviewed every five years to meet with contemporary economic demands of workers.

Rewane said, “As long as you employ more than 25 people, you are bound by law to pay the minimum wage, and failure to pay the minimum wage is an offence punishable by a N75,000 fine, and N10,000 every day that you do not comply. The penalties are quite huge.

“So, it is something that we need to consider as the total wages paid in the country versus the productivity and output of the people, versus the people’s wealth.”

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