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Minimum Wage…Labour, State Governors Set For Showdown

Minimum Wage…Labour, State Governors Set For Showdown

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Summary : Organised labour yesterday kicked against a fresh proposal by some state governors in their advocacy for autonomy to set their own minimum wage for workers. In their recent declaration, the Southern Governors’ Forum called for the consideration of each state to pay the new minimum wage they can afford. The governors’ advocacy also came a few days after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) stepped down a report to allow President Bola Tinubu make more consultations before sending the new national minimum wage bill to the National Assembly. However, responding to the governors yesterday, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), criticised their stance while labelling it as dictatorial and contrary to the foundational principles of a national minimum wage. NLC’s head of information and public affairs, Comrade Benson Upah, in statement sent to LEADERSHIP Weekend yesterday, emphasised that such a wage is intended as a national baseline to ensure a minimum standard of living for all workers. He stated that the national minimum wage is a collective agreement designed to prevent workers from being paid below a certain threshold, which is crucial for maintaining their welfare and the stability of the national economy. According to Upah, the governors’ push to independently determine wage levels undermines this principle and threatens to widen the disparity in workers’ living standards. While acknowledging that states already have diverse pay structures reflecting their unique financial situations, the NLC pointed out the inconsistency in the vgovernors’ argument by comparing it to the uniform salaries received by political office holders across the country, as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The congress decried this “double standard”, calling it a significant concern for the nation’s socio-economic balance. The NLC expressed disappointment at the governors’ apparent ignorance of global best practices regarding national minimum wages, despite their frequent international travels. This lack of understanding, according to the NLC, contributes to poor governance and exacerbates the suffering of Nigerians. The labour centre even suggested that such governors should seek further education on industrial relations to better serve their roles. In the statement, the NLC also commended governors who prioritise the welfare of workers and align their policies accordingly. It however condemned the attitude of viewing workers’ salaries as charitable handouts rather than the rightful earnings of hardworking Nigerians. The statement said, “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is compelled to address the recent statements made by some Nigerian governors regarding their desire to pay what they deem fit to Nigerian workers as the minimum wage. The fate of Nigerian workers cannot be left solely in the hands of employers, whether public or private; what the governors are asking for is akin to allowing numerous companies and organisations in Nigeria to pay workers whatever they like. While these companies may not pay the same salaries, they must adhere to the national wage floor, and the same should apply to state governors. “It is unfortunate that workers’ salaries are often seen as charity rather than the hard-earned income of hardworking Nigerians. It is equally painful that some of these governors fail to realise that workers’ salaries substantially drive the economy. “We urge President Tinubu, who had promised a living wage (which is superior to a minimum wage) not to allow himself to be blackmailed or boxed into a corner by unpatriotic governors. We urge the federal government to stop dithering on the issue of the national minimum wage because of the gang up by some selfish governors.” Complete Minimum Wage Process To Avoid Unrest -SSANIP Meanwhile, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) has called on the federal government to urgently conclude the process for the new national minimum wage to prevent potential unrest by workers. The appeal was made during the 72nd General Executive Council (GEC) meeting held at Auchi Polytechnic. In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, SSANIP expressed dismay at the federal and state governments’ slow pace in finalising the new minimum wage law, which needs to be updated as the current one expired since April 18, 2024. The association warned that failure to address this issue promptly could lead to worker unrest which will be detrimental to the country’s economic progress. In the communique signed by the SSANIP national president, Comrade Philip Ogunsipe and national secretary, Comrade Nura Shehu Gaya yesterday, the association lauded the efforts of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in negotiating the new wage and urged President Bola Tinubu to fulfill his promise of providing Nigerian workers with a living wage. During the meeting, SSANIP discussed various issues impacting the polytechnic sector and its members, and expressed concerns over national security, economic conditions while calling for urgent economic policy reforms to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians. (LEADERSHIP)

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