Governments demand a sustainable minimum wage

The Nigerian Governors Forum, on Thursday, emphasized the need for the government and unions to establish a sustainable minimum wage in the ongoing negotiations.

The NGF, which made the call in a statement issued at the end of its virtual meeting and signed by its Chairman and Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, assured workers of the governors’ commitment to pay workers an enhanced wage.

In response, the Nigerian Labor Congress and the Nigerian Trade Union Congress warned state governors against violating the new minimum wage that would be approved during the ongoing negotiations.

In January, President Bola Tinubu constituted a tripartite committee comprising representatives of government, labor and the private sector to evaluate the N30,000 minimum wage implemented during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Recently, the two main labor organisations, the NLC and the TUC, presented a minimum wage proposal of N615,000 to the committee.

During Wednesday’s May Day celebrations, the government refrained from announcing a new minimum wage, citing its reluctance to accept workers’ proposal.

However, the NGF, in its statement, said it was assessing the fiscal capacity of each state government and the potential effects of different proposals to determine an improved minimum wage that could be sustained by the states.

NGF Advisory Committee

The statement read in part: “The forum celebrates with workers across the country their dedication to service and their patience as we work with the federal government, unions, the organized private sector and relevant stakeholders to reach a national minimum wage implementable.

“While we acknowledge several initiatives recently taken on wage awards and partial wage adjustments, it is imperative to note that the inaugurated 37-member tripartite committee on the National Minimum Wage is still under consultation and has not yet concluded its work.

“As members of the committee, we are reviewing our individual fiscal space as state governments and the consequent impact of various recommendations, to arrive at an improved minimum wage that we can sustainably pay. “We remain committed to the process and promise that better wages will be the invariable result of ongoing negotiations.”

Speaking on the governors’ commitment, TUC Vice President Tommy Etim stated that the new minimum wage would be binding on the governors.

“Governors who raise wages make individual decisions because the new minimum wage has not yet been drafted. What will be binding on the governors is what is agreed upon at the federal level and that is why the governors are on the committee,’ she said.

On when the committee would meet following its failure to reach a consensus last Monday, a senior NLC official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said: “There is still no fixed date for the meeting”. between the minimum wage committee and the Federal Government.”

According to him, the unions have demanded N615,000 as the new minimum wage and are awaiting an offer from the Federal Government.

The source added: “Unions have also demanded that the new law be valid for two years with an agreement for automatic adjustment of salaries whenever inflation exceeds 7.5 percent.

“We have also required all employers with up to five workers in their employment to pay the new minimum wage and have called for monitoring and compliance mechanisms to be strengthened to penalize governments and state organizations that do not comply.”

Also, the Adamawa State NLC Chairman, Chief Emmanuel Fashe, said the state governor had promised to pay the new minimum wage to workers in the state without subjecting it to further negotiations or review with workers in the state.

Speaking on the plight of workers and the need for state governors to act in the meantime to alleviate their suffering, he said the standard of living of Nigerian workers had plummeted following the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and floating of the naira.

He chided the governors for being “too self-centered, although the same cannot be said for all governors, as some have been very thoughtful in implementing the new minimum wage.”

He, however, added that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri had shown himself to be a pro-worker governor, hence the strong relations he enjoys with workers in his state.

Fashe, who also acts as the national vice-president of the North East Zone General Union of Local Government Employees, said: “We are happy that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has assured us that his government will pay any new minimum wage declared by the government.” Federal Government without subjecting it to any negotiation.

“The government has implemented the minimum wage for local government workers and there is no need for confrontation with the executive on these matters.”

kwara workers

For his part, the Chairman of the NLC in Kwara State, Muritala Olayinka, revealed that the state government paid its workers a minimum wage of N30,000 and an additional reward of N10,000 monthly.

He explained that the unions had made efforts to convince Governor AbdulRazaq to increase the monthly remuneration, but their efforts had yet to yield results.

“We have made several efforts to our Governor Mallam AbdulRaman AbdulRazaq, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, to increase the palliative compensation for state workers to N35,000, as approved for federal workers by the federal government, but we have not been successful. . ”He lamented.

The union leader called on AbdulRazaq to set an example as NGF president by implementing the new minimum wage when it becomes law.

The governor in his May Day speech promised to implement the new minimum wage as soon as all processes were concluded.

“We will continue to review our responses within the current realities, including the implementation of another minimum wage as soon as all processes have been concluded,” he said.

Commenting on the NGF commitment, the Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, said the state would wait for the National Minimum Wage Committee to conclude its task before entering into negotiations with Osun workers.

Alimi, who said the Adeleke administration would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the national negotiation on a new salary, noted that the state would soon inaugurate a negotiating committee on the issue.

“We don’t want to be preventive. All the states you mentioned are free to act, but in Osun we will wait for the National Minimum Wage Committee to complete its task. We will soon create a negotiating committee here too,” Alimi said.

Meanwhile, the President of the Nigerian Labor Congress, Joe Ajaero, on Thursday night explained how Congress arrived at the N615,000 minimum wage proposal it submitted to the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage.

Recent reforms in Nigeria, including the removal of fuel subsidy and the unification of the foreign exchange market, have raised the cost of living to newer levels. Inflation figures reached 33.2 percent in March, further aggravating a troubled economy.

Since then, unions and the federal government have been locked in negotiations over measures including a new minimum wage to cushion the impacts of the tough economy.

The NLC proposes a monthly salary of N615,000 for workers, a jump from the current N30,000. Although many believe it is unrealistic, the union believes many states can afford it if they get their priorities right.

Ajaero in the statement said the figure was a product of painstaking effort through which we captured the cost of living of Nigerian workers and masses in all parts of the country. It was essentially the result of independent research by the NLC and the TUC into the cost of meeting the primary needs of the average family across the country. Our research was based on a family with both living parents and four children without the burden of having other dependents with them.

“A questionnaire was designed and sent to all NLC and TUC State Councils from where these questionnaires were sent to our members in all local government areas of the country to collect the monthly cost of living of the average family as described above. Below is a summary of our findings and we hope this will enable Nigerians to understand what is driving our demand to achieve greater clarity and create better engagement around the ongoing national minimum wage negotiation process,” the union leader explained. .

Ajaero further noted that the union arrived at the figure before the increase in the electricity rate and the recent shortage of gasoline throughout the country, which caused the appearance of long queues with the consequent increase in transportation rates.

He said anything less than this amount becomes a starvation wage and condemns Nigerian workers and their families to perpetual poverty.

“We have to remember that, with the old day April 18, 2024 having expired, a new one is expected to come into force on April 19, 2024. However, due to the government’s inability to comply with the Law that required that “The negotiations for a new national minimum wage would have begun six months before the expiration of the existing one, concluding that the new one has unfortunately been delayed,” he added.