Respite for electricity consumers as new law prescribes one-year jail, N1m fine for ‘crazy bill’, makes estimated bill a crime

‘Crazy bill’ to attract one-year jail, N1m fine

Leke Baiyewu

The Electricity Power Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 passed by the House of Representatives last Tuesday prohibiting and criminalising estimated billing has proposed a one-year jail term and a fine of N1m for defaulters.

The proposed law, which will be transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, and onward transmission to the President for his assent, also compels all electricity distribution companies to give prepaid meters to applicants within 30 days.

If assented to, the law will bar a Disco from disconnecting a consumer after the 30-day period within which a meter should be installed.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, sponsored the bill in protest against the ‘crazy’ billing of consumers by the Discos.

The lawmaker had stated that estimated billing could only be used in situations where a consumer’s meter could not be accessed by the service provider. He said Discos had however deemed estimated billing to be normal.

He said, “Any regulation that allows estimation of bills when the actual consumption can be ascertained is against natural justice and equity and should not stand.”

The majority leader had also said the bill, when passed into law, would stop estimated billing.

“The bill will ensure that prepaid meters are installed in all houses, so long as the customers apply for the meters,” he had said.

The House passed the bill upon the adoption of the committee report on the proposed law, following a public hearing held on June 5, 2018.

Gbajabiamila had, at the public hearing stated that there was nowhere in the world where electricity customers were billed arbitrarily.

Sections 68 to 72 are some of the amendments to the Principal Act. Section 68 states, “(1) Estimated billing methodology is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.

“(2) Every electricity consumer in Nigeria shall apply to the Electricity Distribution Company carrying out business within his (or her) jurisdiction for a prepaid meter and such consumer shall pay the regulated fee for prepaid meter to be installed in his (or her) premises and the Electricity Distribution Company shall within 30 days or receiving the application and payment install the prepaid meter applied for in the premises of the consumer.

“(3) Customers who elect to buy their prepaid meters through credit advancement metering implementation must state in their applications and such customers must be metered within 30 days of the receipt of their applications.

“(4) All electricity charges or billings to the premises of every consumer shall be based strictly on prepaid metering and no consumer shall be made to pay any bill without a prepaid meter first being installed at the premises of the consumer.”

In the new Section 69, the proposed law stipulates that the Disco serving the consumer, upon connection, must inform the customer in writing on the nature of the meter installed, tariff methodology and all other services available to the customer.

The new Section 70 states that in giving effect to the provisions of the Act, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, as the regulatory body, must ensure that all licensed Discos comply with the provisions of this Act.

Source: The Punch

Minimum wage bill to be ready within one week, Reps Speaker pledges

Breaking: Reps to conclude Minimum wage legislative process within a week – Dogara

…to set up an ad -hoc C’tttee
By Emman Ovuakporie

ABUJA-THE Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara on Thursday said the House will conclude deliberations on the new minimum wage of N27,000.00 within the next one week.

The speaker made the disclosure immediately after reading President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter requesting that the minimum wage bill should be given a speedy legislative treatment.

Dogara told his colleagues that”an ad-hoc committee would be set up and by Tuesday next week we should be done. Details soon…

Source: Vanguard

Organised Labour Rejects N27,000 Minimum Wage

UPDATE: Organised Labour Rejects N27,000 Minimum Wage

By Soji-Eze Fagbemi With Agency Reports

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the N27,000 new National Minimum Wage adopted by the National Council of State on Tuesday.

Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, the NLC General Secretary, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, the council has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee has submitted its report.

“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.

Ozo-Eson, however, said the NLC has called an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.

The NLC general scribe added that the Federal Government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.

“This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the United Labour Congress (ULC) called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to unfailingly transmit a bill containing N30, 000 minimum wage; which is the product of collective bargaining in the Tripartite Committee report to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Following the approval of N27,000 by the National Council of State as the new national minimum wage on Tuesday, the ULC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), swiftly rejected the figure, saying that the Council of State lacks the constitutional power to approve or recommend minimum wage.

To the ULC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, the Council of State might have been playing their advisory role, thus only advising President Buhari and not recommending a minimum wage.

Comrade Ajaero said the Council of state has no legal power to approve or recommend minimum wage. In an interview with TribuneOnline, the ULC President said: “The Council of State does not have any constitutional power to approve or recommend minimum wage.

“So, if the Council of State is talking about N27,000 or N30,000, they are just being advisory. The Council of State cannot recommend minimum wage. So, we are still expecting Mr President to transmit the product of the collective bargaining in the Tripartite Committee report to the National Assembly tomorrow.”

He added: “There is nothing to be done to deny Nigerian workers any kobo from the N30,000 agreed by the Tripartite group. Maybe the Council of State advised him. That should be advisory.”

Also, in a statement issued by the ULC, the Congress said the unilateral N27,000 national minimum wage is unacceptable, saying, “The emerging news of the unfortunate decision of the Federal Government through the National Council of State to unilaterally propose N27,000 as the new National Minimum Wage is shocking and goes against the grain of all known traditions and practices of Industrial Relations especially as it concerns National Minimum Wage setting framework.

Rising from its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Tuesday in Lagos, the statement said the ULC “Rejects in its entirety the proposed N27,000 which is contrary to the N30,000 agreed by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee and which has since been submitted to the President.”

The statement, also signed by Comrade Ajaero said: “We state that the National Council of State in a National Minimum Wage setting mechanism is an aberration. It is also important that we make it clear that the National Council of State does not have powers to approve, confirm, affirm or accept any figure as the new National Minimum Wage.

“What they have pretended to have done is therefore without any force of Law, standards or other known practices of Industrial Relations the world over.”

He added: “It is a mockery of the essence and principle behind the setting of a National Minimum Wage to attempt to segregate it between Federal Workers and State Workers.

“We want to state that workers are workers everywhere whether at the Federal Level or at the State Level. They all have the same challenges; go to the same market, same schools and much more they suffer the same fate. You cannot, therefore, pay them differently.”

The ULC warned: “We will however in the next few days in consultation with other Labour Centres if they are still in the struggle for a just national minimum wage take steps to ensure that the interests of Nigerian workers as it concerns the National Minimum Wage are protected.

“We urge the President to disregard the pronouncement of the National Council of State as it ridicules the statutes and principles governing the nation. The only honourable path he should tread is to transmit the N30,000 figure as agreed by the Tripartite Committee and even the President on the day of submission of the Committee’s report.

“We will not accept the use of any cover of state to jettison the collective will of Nigerian workers and the trade union movement.”

In its own reaction, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) also rejected outrightly the new National Minimum wage of N27, 000 as recommended by the National Council of State.

The congress pointed out that the fact that the federal government agrees to pay N30, 000 notwithstanding; it would not accept it.

In a statement signed by the TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and the Secretary-General, Comrade Musa Lawal, the Congress said the Council of State decision, though advisory in nature, “is weighty and may give the semblance of authority to the decision.

“This decision must not be allowed to stand because it will set the wrong precedent for the future: i.e, after statutory bodies have done their jobs, Council of State will now sit to review it.”

The statement added: “Let it be known that N30,000 minimum wage is a product of negotiation, not legislation, not advise and not a decree.

“Minimum wage issue, therefore, is moving to a new theatre, the National Assembly. We expect the representative of the people if really they are to do the needful during the public hearing.”

Source: Tribune

Minimum wage: FG sends proposal to NEC Thursday

Minimum wage: FG to send proposal to NEC Thursday

John Ameh, Abuja

The Federal Government is set to present the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage proposal to the National Economic Council on Thursday (tomorrow) for further consultations.

This was the key resolution of an extraordinary meeting of the Federal Executive Council, which ended in Abuja on Tuesday night.

President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the meeting at the Presidential Villa.

State governors, the Central Bank of Nigeria and some major Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government constitute the NEC.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, informed State House correspondents after the FEC rose that deliberations centred on the minimum wage.

Mohammed did not give further details aside from saying that the government would meet with NEC for more talks.

He said, “Until after the meeting of the NEC, l cannot (give details) because it is work in progress, since it will also be discussed at the NEC meeting before we come out with the decision. Thereafter, we can address the media.”

The NEC is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Last week, Buhari inaugurated a technical committee to guide the government on how to implement a new wage bill.

The inauguration of the committee came soon after the President also made a commitment to forward a bill on the new minimum wage to the National Assembly.

Father of 3 makes N200,000 monthly from charcoal business in Kaduna

Father of 3 makes N200,000 monthly from charcoal business in Kaduna

A 29-year-old man Yusuf Adamu on Friday said he makes an average sale of N200,000 monthly from charcoal business.

Adamu who is a father to three children and a resident of Rigasa, Kaduna told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he started the business with three sacks of charcoal valued N4, 500.

“I started three years ago with zero capital; I collected three sacks from the dealers and paid them after sale from which I deducted and saved the profit”, he explained.

Adamu said he began the business by the road side, but now owns a shop and buys 10 to 15 bags of coal for retailing.

He added that he usually package the charcoal according to kilogram in a nylon and sell them at the rate of N100 to N200 to customers.

When asked about his educational level, Yusuf stated that he was not opportune to go to school but was doing his best to make sure his children get education.

Adamu said his target is to become a distributor of the charcoal, adding that the business had paid his bills over the years.

He urged youth not to belittle any business, as most people started from small businesses to grow into successful people in life. (NAN)

Minimum wage: FG, labour reach agreement as govt sends bill on implementation to NASS Jan 23

FG, labour sign pact, National Assembly to get minimum wage bill Jan 23

Olufemi Atoyebi, Sampson Itode, Tunji Bosun, Olaide Oyelude, Bola Bamigbola, Adekunle Peter, Samuel Nkemakolem, Peter Dada, Ada Wodu, Godwin Isenyo, Chidiebube Okeoma and Ademola Babalola

The Federal Government and organised labour in the country on Tuesday finally reached an agreement that the Presidency would send the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill to the National Assembly after three days of meetings.

The agreement came on a day that labour unions staged a nationwide protest over the non-transmission of the bill to the National Assembly by the Federal Government.

Unlike other meetings, the Tuesday meeting lasted for fewer hours.

However, President of Trade Union Congress, Kaigama Bobboi, warned that if the Federal Government reneged on the date it promised to transmit the bill to the National Assembly, labour would take action without any warning.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Nigige, who presided over the meeting, assured the labour leaders that the Federal Government would send the bill to the National Assembly on January 23, 2019 after members of the National Assembly must have resumed from their Yuletide recess.

He added that necessary meetings on the part of the Federal Government would be held next week to ensure the timeline was met.

The minister said, “As for the transmission of the executive bill to the National Assembly, the government will religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time.

“We have a target time of January 23, 2019 and we hope that all things being equal, government will be able to do so. We will take all statutory meetings of the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Council of State meetings to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage. I thank the labour unions for their understanding and appeal to them that the threats should come down. Protests are no longer necessary.”

While thanking Ngige for his role on the issue, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said workers had been patient with government for more than two years.

He added that after the submission of the report by the tripartite committee that deliberated on the minimum wage more that two months ago, it was expected that the Federal Government would have gone beyond the present stage of making effort to transmit a bill to the National Assembly.

He said, “We have finally been able to reach a clear understanding on the processes and timeline for this bill to be transmitted. We are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.

“You will recall that our demand is for the bill to be transmitted to the National Assembly. We want a firm commitment so that we don’t come round a cycle. We want the agreement to be documented and signed by government’s representatives. With that, we can follow up on the process.

“This thing has been on the table for more than two years and having submitted the report, we expect that the bill should have been submitted. The National Assembly will be back on January 16 from their recess so on or before January 23, the bill must have been transmitted.

“We know that the National Assembly members are desirous of making sure that Nigerian workers have decent wage, they will also be able to do the needful. We will shift our lobby to the National Assembly because once the bill is enacted; the money will be in the pocket of workers.

“Issues of industrial relations are always addressed at the negotiation table. We have been diligent in the whole process and workers have been patient, clearly we have carried them along, that is why whenever we want them to be around, they are always around. We are tired of stories and that is why we insisted on a timeline.”

Wabba, however, downplayed the agreement, saying that it was only one step taken out of many in making sure that a new minimum wage was paid.

“For us, it is a win-win situation but until the money is in our pocket, that is when we can talk of success. It is still work in progress and there are many more battles to fight. But once it is at the National Assembly, the half of the work is done. The next level is the implementation in the public and private sectors. But we are optimistic with the success of the bill at the National Assembly,” he said.

Workers, in nationwide protests, say N18,000 no longer realistic

But while the meeting between the Federal Government team and the labour leaders was going on, workers across the country held nationwide protests to demand the implementation of N30,000 minimum wage.

The protests were held in many states including Lagos, Rivers, Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Bayelsa, Edo and Kaduna.

Before the meeting, Wabba had earlier on Tuesday morning led workers in Abuja in a protest march from the Labour House to the Federal Capital Territory Administration office.

Wabba said the present N18,000 minimum wage could no longer cater for workers’ basic needs.

He said most Nigerian workers were unable to eat thrice per day. According to him, workers should be able to take care of their family but, in reality, he said, reverse was the case.

Wabba noted that in South Africa, the minimum wage was over N120,000, stating that the political class in the country were not complaining unlike in Nigeria. He also said that Ghana’s minimum wage was better that what obtained in Nigeria.

The Head of Human Resources in the FCTA, Mr Lazarus Gaza, received a protest letter from the NLC president.

Protest: Heavy traffic in Lagos

In Lagos, the protest by the organised labour caused gridlock on Lagos roads, while many commuters were stranded at the various bus stops.

The News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday reported that the workers’ protest started from Maryland as early as 7am and ended at the Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.

The protest also resulted in gridlock on Ikorodu Road, Alausa and Ikeja.

The Vice President of the NLC, Solomon Adelegan, told the workers that the demand for a new minimum wage had gone beyond the negotiation stage.

A Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr Benjamin Adeyinka, told the protesting workers that the governor was not available. They shouted and insisted that the gate should be opened.

Adeyinka was not allowed to speak, as the protesters insisted that they did not want to hear from him but from Ambode.

Implement panel report, Oyo, Rivers workers tell govt

In Oyo State, the NLC Chairman, Mr Waheed Olojede, and his TUC counterpart, Mr Emmanel Ogundiran, noted that the federal and state governments, labour and organised private sector had reached a compromise.

Olojede, who spoke on the workers’ behalf, urged both the federal and state governments to implement the report of the tripartite committee.

The state Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Adeyemo, who addressed the workers, said, “Bearing the current economic condition, it is not too much for an average Nigerian to request N30,000 as minimum wage. The governors are sympathetic and acknowledge that N18,000 may be inadequate.”

Members of the NLC in Rivers State called on the Federal Government to implement the agreement it reached with the union.

The Chairman, NLC in the state, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, said any governor that refused to implement the minimum wage would be voted out.

The workers, who marched to the Rivers State Government House, were addressed by the Chief of Staff Government House, Emeka Woke.

Woke said the governor had earlier promised to implement the new minimum wage as soon as the bill was passed into law.

Ogun NLC demands N35,000 as minimum wage

However, the NLC and the TUC in Ogun State urged the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, to pay N35, 000 as minimum wage.

The state chairmen of the NLC and TUC, Akeem Amabali and Bunmi Fajobi respectively, made the demand while speaking with journalists during a rally embarked upon by the unions in Abeokuta.

Both Fajobi and Ambali said the payment of N35,000 would make the state to be different from other states.

No going back on N30,000-Katsina NLC

Workers, who stormed the Government House in Katsina, Katsina State capital, told Governor Aminu Masari’s Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Ahmed Jibia, who received them that any governor who failed to implement the N30,000 minimum wage should forget workers’ votes.

They also said there was no going back on their demand for the payment of N30,000 as minimum wage.

Jibia received a letter brought by the workers on their demands, promising that it would be delivered to the governor.

A national officer of the NLC from Abuja, Marwan Adamu, who is also the National President of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, led members of the organised labour.

Civil servants in Osun State led by the Chairman of the NLC, Jacob Adekomi, and his counterpart in TUC, Adekola Adebowale, held a peaceful protest in Osogbo to demand N30,000 minimum wage.

The protest began at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, from where the workers moved through major streets of the state capital.

The Edo State chapter of the NLC threatened to boycott the 2019 general elections if the N30,000 minimum wage bill was not transmitted to the National Assembly.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr Emmanuel Ademokun, stated this in Benin, when he led a protest march to the Government House.

Responding, Governor Godwin Obaseki, reassured them of his administration’s readiness to pay whatever amount was passed into law.

Organised labour in Bayelsa State said that the new national minimum wage would largely determine the electoral preference of workers during the 2019 elections.

The Bayelsa State Chairman of the NLC, John Ndiomu, and his TUC counterpart, Mr Tari Dounana, stated this in Yenagoa during the minimum wage protest.

Ndiomu urged the federal and state governments to make workers’ welfare their priority.

The Chief of Staff, Bayelsa Government House, Mr Talford Ongolo, who received the labour unions on behalf of Governor Seriake Dickson, said the state government was in support of the N30, 000 new minimum wage.

Ondo workers ask Akeredolu to pay N30,000

Also, civil servants in Ondo State, during the protest urged Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to ensure payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.

They urged President Buhari to submit a bill to the National Assembly for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage for workers.

The Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde, who addressed the labour unions on behalf of the governor, said the welfare of the workers in the state was paramount to the government.

We’ll pay minimum wage, Ayade assures C’River workers

But in Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade assured workers in the state that his government would pay the N30,000 national minimum wage.

He gave the assurance on Tuesday when labour leaders led workers on a street rally to his Diamond Hill office in Calabar to present a letter of commitment to him.

According to the governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, John Ulafor, “the N30,000 minimum wage is just alright. It is not beyond the government to pay. It is your right.”

If I have the capacity, I’ll pay Benue workers above N30,000 — Ortom

In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom said if he had the capacity, he would pay the state workers above N30,000 as minimum wage.

Ortom stated this on Tuesday in Makurdi while addressing members of the NLC.

NAN quoted Ortom as saying, “If I have the capacity, I will not hesitate to implement the new minimum wage even above N30,000.”

The NLC state Chairman, Mr Godwin Anya, called on the governor to consider the workers’ plight and stand on their side by accepting to pay the proposed minimum wage.

Vote out anti-labour leaders, says Kaduna NLC chair

In Kaduna State, the Chairman of the NLC, Adamu Ango, and his TUC, Shehu Mohammed, urged the workers “to remain steadfast and vote out anybody who is anti-labour during the February elections.”

He also asked the various state governors to cut their huge expenditures and hearken to the voice of the people over the new minimum wage.

Also in Imo State, the NLC called on Buhari, to intensify the process of implementing the N30,000 minimum wage.

The protesters who marched through the major streets in Owerri, the state capital,said it was high time the Federal Government took the welfare of the workers seriously.

Credit: The Punch

NLC to hold nationwide protest Tuesday

NLC to hold nationwide protest Tuesday

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress says it will on Tuesday hold a nationwide protest to drive its demand for the upward review of the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said in a statement that there would be no strike for now.

Ozo-Eson, therefore, asked members of the public to disregard reports that the strike would begin tomorrow.

The statement read in part, “It has come to our attention that some sections of the news media have largely misrepresented our action plan in reaction to the delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It should be recalled that the National Executive Council of the NLC met on December 17 last year and directed that we hold nationwide mobilisation of workers and our allies if, by December 31, 2018, the bill on the national minimum wage has yet to be sent to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of Parliament.

“We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike.”

Credit: The Punch

Minimum wage: FG, Labour meeting inconclusive, talks continue Monday

Minimum wage: FG, Labour meeting inconclusive

by Tony AKOWE,Abuja

Negotiation between the Federal Government and organized labour on the N30,000 minimum wage remained inconclusive at the end of another round of meeting last night in Abuja.

Both sides are scheduled to reconvene on Monday to take a final decision on the grey areas.

Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, told reporters at the end of a five -hour long meeting yesterday that substantial progress had been made in the discussion and that all that is left is a final resolution.

Ngige said there was no deadlock as the two sides agreed on most of the issues tabled for discussion and only adjourned to allow for further consultations.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari wanted the issue thrashed out and he would not have set up the tripartite committee on the minimum wage if he was not interested in the matter in the first place.

Also speaking, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, dismissed any idea that the meeting was deadlocked.

His words: “The meeting decided to adjourn and reconvene on Monday for us to do further consultations before the issues are concluded. We have discussed all the issues and all the grey areas, particularly how we can ensure that the issue is put behind us.

“That is why we took such a long time, including having a timeout to consult. But we have not been able to conclude and we have agreed to reconvene to tidy up the process.

“The issue at stake is to make sure that the bill is transmitted and also other auxiliary issues that government says they are trying to put together. We also want to see how the money gets into the pocket of our workers because a lot of economic factors have affected the current wage.

“But the major issue is that we have been able to have a meaningful social dialogue. But the process is not conclusive and will reconvene on Monday.

“Monday is not too far from now since today is Friday.”

He said the outcome of Monday’s meeting would determine whether labour would proceed with its planned rallies on Tueday.

Continuing, he said: “Part of the report that was submitted is all inclusive of the main report and draft bill. But those processes which they need to ensure that a clean bill is transmitted to the National Assembly and what they now termed some physical issues are what we will tidy up on Monday. So, let us wait for that Monday.”

The meeting started at about 12.50 pm with several breaks in between to allow for consultations with stakeholders including President Buhari.

The Nation gathered that the labour leaders insisted on a definite date when the government will transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly, a decision the three ministers present could not take on their own.

Addressing the meeting earlier, Ngige said the President was committed to giving Nigerian workers a new minimum wage.

He said however that in addressing the issue, the government wanted to ensure that the new minimum wage was sustainable.

He said “I do realise that this is still part of the Christmas period and that people are still on holiday. You can see the two ministers in charge of government resources. The Minister of Budget and National Planning and the Minister of Finance. Mr. President specifically asked them to be part of this meeting. We had to cut short our vacation because of the need for us to discuss.

“You know that people can go to war when there is lack of information and in the process, people can misconstrue and speculate. We called this meeting as a result of the communique issued by the Joint Labour Centres after your executive meeting in Lagos when you informed government that you are not happy with the implementation processes of the report of the tripartite committee.”

President of the NLC, Comrade Aruba Wabba said the organised labour has always wanted all issues of industrial relations resolved through dialogue, adding that the issue on ground has nothing to do with money, but the process leading to the final outcome.

Wabba said “Clearly, we have always believed in social dialogue in resolving industrial relations issues. From the beginning of the issue of this new national minimum wage which was legally due in 2016, labour has demonstrated enough patience and understanding and has followed all the processes to make sure that we are able to dispense with this issue.”

Credit: The Nation

No state should pay below minimum wage, Falana

Falana: No Federalism in Minimum Wage

Says Melaye should end siege to his house
Segun James

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said there is no federalism when it comes to the payment of living wages to workers in the country, stressing that it is wrong for state governments to insist that each state should be allowed to pay what they can afford as minimum wage.

The senior lawyer has also urged the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, to submit himself to the police for arrest without further delay so as to end the needless drama and the unwarranted inconvenience to which his family members and neighbours have been subjected for the past six days.

Speaking Thursday on Arise News, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspaper, Falana argued that even in the United States of America where Nigeria copied its type of democracy, the Congress prescribed the national minimum wage from which the states can only add but not reduce.

According to him, “Section 16 of the Nigerian Constitution does not talk of minimum wage alone, but a living minimum wage payable by the government of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the labour movement has generous in asking for just N30,000 considering the living standard in the country today.”

He said that it was wrong for states to want to determine whatever they want to pay as minimum wage, saying this is not done in any civilised society.

“There must be an irreducible minimum wage payable by employers of labour, otherwise if you say you are going to liberalise the payment of minimum wage, many people would be paid what you may call a starvation wage.”

Falana added that the Minimum Wage Act of 2011 has to be amended, stressing that the National Assembly should not wait for the president to send the bill.

He said there is nowhere in the world where the state governments or the local governments determine what they want to pay. “In the US, which is a bastion of our form of federalism, and normally our reference point, has a national minimum wage act enacted by the Congress, not by individual state governments.

“Today the minimum wage in America is $7.25 per hour. But not less than 29 states pay higher! So when you set the minimum standard, state governments and local governments can then pay higher, but nobody can pay below the minimum wage,” Falana explained.

Meanwhile, the senior lawyer has urged the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, to submit himself to the police for arrest without further delay so as to end what he described as the needless drama and the unwarranted inconvenience to which his family members and neighbours have been subjected for the past six days.

Falana acknowledged in a statement yesterday that the fundamental right of every citizen to personal liberty is guranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

He however, added that the right may be violated by the State if there is reasonable suspicion that any citizen has committed a criminal offence. The rights activist recalled that the Nigeria Police Force recently announced its plan to arrest Melaye on the allegation that he committed the offences of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide.

He also noted that the senator did not respond to the invitation of the Police on the grounds that the permission of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was not sought and obtained.

“Convinced that the senator has decided not to submit himself for investigation, a team of police personnel has surrounded his residence with a view to effecting his arrest. The siege to the house by the Police has needlessly lasted for six days. It has been reported that the supply of electricity and water to the house has been disconnected by the Police. Such action cannot be justified in law. There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police Force has itself to blame for the sensationalisation of the planned arrest of the senator. The Police ought to have effected the arrest of the senator under the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which empower the Police and other law enforcement to break into any house to arrest if there is evidence that any criminal suspect against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by any court has absconded or is concealing himself or herself so that the warrant cannot be executed,” Falana explained.

The lawyer insisted that by sending over 60 armed police personnel to arrest a citizen, the police are exposing the federal government to ridicule.

Falana added that contrary to the misleading statement credited to the leadership of the Senate on the procedure for the arrest of legislators, the Nigeria Police Force is not required to seek the consent or obtain the permission of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives before arresting a member of the National Assembly who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence in any part of the country.

“Since legislators are not entitled to immunity under section 308 of the Constitution they are liable to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted if they are linked with the commission of any criminal offence. However, the arrest, investigation and prosecution must be conducted in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the penal statutes and the Constitution,” he said.

Credit: ThisDay

Labour gives FG December 31 to submit minimum wage report to NASS

Labour gives FG December 31 to submit minimum wage report to NASS

Labour Minister, Chris Ngige and NLC President, Idris Waba

The organised labour on Thursday said that the Federal Government has before or on Dec. 31 to send the tripartite committee report on N30,000 minimum wage to the National Assembly.

The three labour centres, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) took the decision after a joint meeting in Lagos.

The organiseed labour gave the ultimatum following President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that a “high powered technical committee” would be set up to device ways to ensure that its implementation did not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.

Buhari spoke at the presentation of 2019 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, who address newsmen after the meeting, said that setting up a technical committee could not be a condition for passing the minimum wage report to the National Assembly.

Accoridng to Wabba, the organised labour cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if the wage report was not passed for implementation on or before Dec. 31.

“We reject in its entirety the plan to set up another `high powered technical committee’ on the minimum wage. It is diversionary and a delay tactics.

“The national minimum wage committee was both technical and all-encompassing in its compositions and plan to set up a technical committee is alien to the tripartite process.

“It is also alien to the International Labour Organisations’ conventions on national minimum wage setting mechanism,’’ he said.

The labour leader said that issues on payment of minimum wage was a law that was universal, citing that other African countries like, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa had increased their minimum wage this year.

“If you increase minimum wage, you are increasing the purchasing power of the economy which will help to reduce inflation rather than increase it,’’ Wabba said.

He urged workers to be vigilant and prepare to campaign and vote against candidates and politicians who are not willing to implement the new minimum wage.

Mr Joe Ajaero, President of ULC, also called on the government to send the report to lawmakers so that the implementation of the new minimum wage report would begin without delay.

Ajaero said that all affiliate members of the organised labour had been informed to be alert ahead of the Dec. 31 notice if the government failed to submit the report.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that organised labour had planned to go on a nationwide strike on Nov. 6, following the Federal Government’s delay to accept the N30,000 minimum wage agreement.