THE President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba and the President of United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero have warned against further delay in the implementation of the new national minimum wage, as agreed by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Specifically, Wabba and Ajaero warned the Executive, members of the National Assembly and the state governors against playing politics with the issue of minimum wage and unnecessary delay; warning that the organized Labour would go back to the trenches should there be plan to delay it.
According to Wabba, the Executive should transmit the bill to the National Assembly within a few weeks, while it should not take more than two weeks for the National Assembly to pass it because it comes from a tripartite agreement which has already taken about a year to negotiate.
Wabba, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune, in an exclusive interview said: “When a bill is transmitted to the National Assembly as important as the National Minimum Wage, our expectation is that it should receive an expeditious consideration.”
The NLC president added: “We want to say that reasonably, it shouldn’t take more than few weeks for the Executive to complete its works and transmit to the National Assembly. We also hope that at the National Assembly, it shouldn’t take more than one to two weeks to do that, all the processes. In the National Assembly, once it’s tripartite issue, you don’t even need public hearing but it is at their discretion to do that.”
However, he warned against any reduction from the agreed N30,000, saying that labour would not accept any reduction from what was agreed and presented in the report to President Buhari.
History of minimum wage in Nigeria
He said: “If it goes to the National Assembly, if they say they want to increase, we are ready for the increase but they cannot also reduce. If they want to reduce, we would go there because they cannot also shave our head in our absence.
“Overwhelmingly, they would know that if they want to be by the side of the people they cannot recommend anything lower than what has been agreed mutually. I know that the governors will put pressure to say that they should reduce the N30,000, we are not unmindful of that.
“Having not unmindful of that, we must also be ready at all cost. The price for Liberty anywhere around the world is internal vigilance; therefore we re very vigilant
“At all the levels, we are really on alert to make sure that we follow up on the processes.”
Also, the ULC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero told Nigerian Tribune in an Interview that the state governors and members of National Assembly have no justification, whatsoever, to reduce or delay the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Any attempt for them to move against it, Ajaero said the Organized Labour would be forced to seek justification for almost N14 million each senator take home at the end of each month.
Besides, he said the organized Labour would demand for explanation on the millions of Naira the governors pay to themselves as security votes, while their salaries would be scrutinized.
The ULC president said: “It is like half of the job is done with the level of consciousness and the explanation we gave; beause we have given enough explanation to the masses of this country and unanimously, nobody has denied that N30,000 is even enough. So, I wasnt expecting the National Assembly to act to the contrary.
“But that is not where the problems will lie because of the attitude of some states, who will be bracing up. We will engage the states at the point of implementation.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that the members of National Assembly, some of those who receive almost N14 million per month, can deny the same specy N30,000 in a month; going to the same market, in the same environment and all that. But at the level of the state, we may need to engage them; especially giving the nature of some of our functionaries in such localities..
“I think the kind of cooperation we showed in achieving this N30,000 should be shown in the states. The national unions and centres should not leave the battle in the state to the state councils.
“It would be necessary without exception for all the unions and centres to descend on any state that will want to enslave Nigerian workers through the payment of a minimum wage less than N30,000.”
Ajaero added: “We would not be unmindful that some state governors who controls some legislators may attempt to be funny but that will bring us to the next level of our engagements
“That might bring us to the level of demanding for the justification of whatever they are collecting at the level of National Assembly, demanding for the man hour they put in the discharge of their duty and demanding for what constitutes the security votes, and disclosure of what constitute the salary of a state governor.”