Pay minimum wage now, Ngige implores states

Ngige advises states not to delay minimum wage payment

by Tony Akowe, Abuja

Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige yesterday urged state governments and other employers of labour to start the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage.

He said the immediate implementation of new salary regime remained the only way avoid a huge backlog of arrears that will likely create labour unrest for them.

Ngige also advised the states to avoid the mistake they made in 2011 when they carried out percentage increase across board for workers, thereby placing them in a position of not being able to pay wages, adding that “any state that does percentage increase will put itself in a disadvantaged position as it will not be able to pay.”

The minister told reporters that no state governor can refuse to implement the minimum wage being a national law, adding that the earlier they start the implementation, the better it will be for them.

Ngige said with the signing of the new minimum wage bill into law by the President, the new wage now takes effect from the April 18, 2019, adding that “any employer of labour that has not commenced the payment is already owing workers arrears of the new wage.”

The former senator said: “The minimum wage was one of the products of the technical committee that worked on the palliatives as a result of the increase in pump price of PMS.

“We were the anchor ministry and I led the government delegation comprising about seven ministers, the National Salaries and Wages Commission and the state government.”

Reminded that state governors were complaining of inability to pay the new wage, Ngige said: “it is a national law and no governor can say he will not pay. Issue of national minimum wage is item 34 on the exclusive legislative list in the third schedule of the Nigerian constitution. Issue of labour is also there and not on the concurrent list. If it is on the concurrent list, then they can make their own state Assembly laws on that.

“Any state government that has not started implementation of the new minimum wage is now owing workers’ especially if they have not started paying N30, 000. They are owing workers effective from 18th of April, the new minimum wage.

“We are now in a committee working out a new template with which we will adjust the consequential adjustment upstairs for those already earning above N30, 000.”

Credit: The Nation

N30,000 minimum wage: States strategise

N30,000 minimum wage: States return to drawing board

by Bisi Oladele, Ibadan; Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin; Nicholas Kalu, Calabar; Okodili Ndidi,Owerri; Justina Asishana, Minna; Sunny Nwankwo,Aba  
State governments across the country are taking a fresh look at their finances with a view to mapping out strategies for payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage.

They are also awaiting guidelines from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission on how best to handle the situation.

Although some of the states, including Kano, Zamfara, Kwara, Rivers, Kogi and Edo, had expressed their readiness to pay the new minimum wage, there seems to be discordant tunes from some other states about their ability to pay.

One of such states is Oyo where the current monthly wage bill stands at N5.6 billion.

The state is allocated an average of N4.4 billion a month from the federal purse while its internally generated revenue is about N1.6 billion monthly.

Information, Culture and Tourism Commissioner, Toye Arulogun, could not tell what the wage bill would look like when details of the new minimum wage are released.

He said that could only be determined when the Federal Government gazettes the new minimum wage and guidelines are out.

The commissioner explained that the government would take the necessary step if it was confronted with inability to pay.

But he was quick to add: “We will wait to cross the bridge before deciding the appropriate line of action.”

The Kwara State Government is also awaiting the template for payment from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

It says the template is required by the 13-man minimum wage reviewing committee it set up to guide it on computing new salaries for workers.

Investigations revealed that the state government receives between N2.5 and N3.8 billion monthly, going by the figure usually released by the Joint Allocation Account Committee (JAAC).

The internally generated revenue of the state also stands at between N1.7 billion and N2.3 billion per month.

The Chairman of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS), Prof Muritala

Awodun, recently said that the service generated a total sum of N6.279 billion as revenue in the first quarter of 2019.

Awodun, said that the agency generated N2.16 billion in January, N1.76 billion in February and N2.38 billion in March 2019.

The KWIRS boss, who said that the revenue agency was yet to achieve its target of N60 billion revenue per annum or N5 billion monthly, however, said that the service has been developed to a point that it would not make less than an average of N2.5 billion every month.

It was gathered that the state government currently spends over N2 billion on the payment of workers’ salaries.

A source gave the breakdown of salary payment as follows: core civil servants N600 million; primary and secondary school teachers N940 million; local government staff N500 million and pensioners N400 million.

Like Oyo and Kwara, Cross River State is also waiting for the guidelines from the federal authorities.

It currently has about 25,000 workers on its payroll and receives an average of N3 billion allocation from Abuja monthly and generates between N1.5 billion and N3.5 billion.

Apart from paying salaries and meeting financial obligations in respect of projects, the state also services the loan taken for the execution of the Tinapa complex.

This is put at almost N100 million per month.

There is also the controversial superhighway expected to gulp over N700 billion.

The governor recently  transmitted a letter to the House of Assembly to approve modalities for funding the project by the state government.

The letter, which was leaked on the Internet, sought approval for an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) for N648.8 billion in favour of a construction company.

The letter with reference number SSG/S/300/VOL.XVII/1199, addressed to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, sought the state legislature to consider and pass a resolution granting an approval for the state government to issue an ISPO of N300 million monthly through a bank in favour of the construction company.

Imo ’ll pay, says Okorocha

…as gov-elect insists on checking records first

The Chief Press Secretary to outgoing Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, told The Nation that the state government would pay the new minimum wage.

He said: “Imo State was the first state to pay the N18,000 minimum wage and it will also pay the new minimum wage of N30,000.

“The governor has always considered the welfare of workers a top priority of his administration.”

But Mr. Chibuike Onyeukwu,  the media aide to Governor-elect Emeka Ihedioha, said the records would have to be checked first to determine what could be done.

He said: “The issue of the minimum wage is a matter the governor-elect will not comment on until he is sworn in and assumes office on May 29.

“Thereafter, he will check the records on ground and make the position of the state known.”

Investigation showed that the current monthly wage bill of workers in the state is about N4 billion, pensions gulp  N1.4 billion, while internally generated revenue (IGR) is N1.4 billion per annum.

The state also gets between N3.4 billion and N5 billion as allocation from Abuja monthly.

Speaking on the state’s chances of paying the new minimum wage, the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Iyke Njoku, described it as a complicated issue.

He said: “With the signing of the new minimum wage bill into law, every state is expected to pay. For it to be obtainable, the Federal Government should have made it optional rather than foisting it on the states.

“States should have been allowed to negotiate with the workers and agree on what they can pay.

“For instance, in Imo State, we have free education going on, and this is taking a lot of money and we cannot stop that to meet up with the new salary because they will bring back hardship on the people.

“And if you fail to comply with the new salary structure, labour will revolt. So it is a very complicated issue for now.”

Niger to initiate discussion with labour

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is seeking talks with labour leaders in the state on how to proceed with payment of the new minimum wage.

He wants to find out why government’s wage bill has remained unchanged despite the large number of those who have either retired from the service or died since 2015 when he assumed office.

Bello said that while he is committed to paying the new minimum wage, “we will initiate discussions with the organised labour on how to proceed with the necessary modalities for the full implementation of the 30,000 minimum wage bill as signed into law by the President.”

He said it was ”disheartening that despite conscious efforts to turn around the fortunes of the state, the state wage bill continues to remain static, regardless of the number of the people that have retired from the service and those who died between 2015 and now.

“The civil servants need to be sincere with themselves and support government in changing the ugly trend.”

The federal allocation to Niger State in January 2019 was N4.043 billion.

Figures recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the state’s IGR last year at N6.5 billion per annum, an average of N543 million per month.

Abia ready to pay, says commissioner

The Abia State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku, told The Nation that the state government was ready to pay the new minimum wage, saying it “will also give us the opportunity to recalibrate our wage structure to be on the same page with other states.”

Asked whether the state has the financial muscle to pay, he said: “Our IGR is not static; it fluctuates. In my time, it has gone beyond N1 billion, and at times, it has fallen below N700 million.

“It keeps fluctuating, but we have arrived at a point where I think today, we can target N2 billion as IGR in Abia and achieve it.

“Ultimately, people believe that Abia can make N5 billion as IGR, and I share that optimism. But that hasn’t happened yet.

“Minimum wage is something that we have all agreed that the amount currently being earned by workers is low, and as a state, we are going to abide with the decision, in line with other states. Whatever other states are doing, be rest assured that we are going to do it.

“But I am not also worried, because if you check the whole of Southeast today, Abia pays the highest. N30,000 minimum wage will also give us the opportunity to recalibrate our wage structure to be at the same page with other states.”

On the possibility of the wage bill being a burden on the state, the commissioner said: “There is no doubt that it is going to be a big burden on the state.

“But why I am not a bit bothered like other states is because Abia has been paying well above the N18, 000 minimum wage since 2011 till date.

“So, we are not as jittery as other states. But like I told you, this has also provided a very good platform for us to look at our wage structure, knowing that we pay the highest.

“We have the capacity to continue paying highest. We are going to use this opportunity and adjust and then make it easier for us to pay and for the workers to earn this money as and when due.

“It is going to be a win-win situation for everybody. The workers will be happy and the state will also be happy.

“I know that when we came in and did the biometrics and the new payroll administration strategy where we have centralized payroll system, that assisted us in realigning our wage structure and we made huge savings from that exercise.

“This exercise was basically for the MDAs, but the minimum wage now is going to give us the opportunity to look at what is being earned even in other parastatals like Abia Poly where the wage structure is dysfunctional because a PhD holder in Abia Poly earns higher than a professor in ABSU (Abia State University, Uturu).

“It is absurd and totally unacceptable. So, be rest assured that with the restructuring that we are trying to do, it will realign these things and make it look like what it should be, so that the state will be alive to its responsibility, these institutions will also be alive and running.

“We are going to restructure our salary wage bill to be in line with what is obtainable elsewhere.

“Concerning our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), we are currently undergoing restructuring. During the period of restructuring, you don’t get that kind of quantum leap that you expect, but any moment from now, we will start reaping the dividends of those things”.

Credit: The Nation

Minimum wage: We have only won first leg of the battle, Labour

Labour: we have won the first leg

by Toba Agboola

Labour yesterday hailed the signing of the Minimum Wage Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as the first stage of victory for workers.

It said strict implementation of the new salary regime should begin immediately.

The workers leaders – Bobboi Kaigama of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joe Ajaero of the United Labour Congress (ULC) – said the signing was the first stage of the battle to ensure a living wage for their members.

They called for strict implementation of the wage to ensure that all the states and the private sector comply.

The Labour leaders plan to sanction any employer that refused to comply with the new minimum wage.

Speaking with The Nation, Ajaero said one leg of the battle has been won, adding “Labour is ready for the second battle”.

He said the level of enforcement by the states, government agencies and the private sector would be look into.

He said: “Experience has showed that some states, government agencies, private sector may not want to comply. So, we have to enforce strictly on this.

“Also, the insinuation that N27,000 is what will be approved has been laid to rest. I want use this opportunity to congratulates the Nigerian workers.”

Kaigama said: “It’s a victory for the Nigerian workers.

The TUC President said further: “What is needed now is strict follow up, saying that the minimum wage is long over due.

“We are happy that it has been finally signed. However, strict monitoring is necessary so that every employers will comply. I congratulates the Nigerian workers.”

Credit: The Nation

It is official: Minimum wage now N30,000 as Buhari assents to bill

BREAKING: Minimum wage now N30,000 as Buhari assents to bill

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019.
By this act, the new minimum wage is now N30,000.
The President assented to the Act on Thursday in Abuja, mandating all employers of labour across the country to pay workers a minimum of N30,000 monthly wage.
The National Assembly had submitted the minimum wage bill to the President since March 27.
The bill approving N30,000 as the new national minimum wage was passed by both chambers of National Asaembly before they went on break for the 2019 general elections.
Earlier in the week, workers in the Federal Capital Territory had begged the President to sign the minimum wage bill.
Some of the workers had expressed concerns over the delay in signing the bill into law, adding that it was causing them unnecessary anxiety.

Sign minimum wage bill into law before Workers Day, NLC tells Buhari

Sign minimum wage bill into law before Workers Day, NLC tells Buhari

by Adeyinka Akintunde

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the new National Minimum Wage bill for the Nigerian workers recently passed into law by both chambers of the National Assembly before the 2019 workers day celebration.

Speaking in an interview with The Nation in Abuja, General Secretary of Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson said with the passage of the bill into law, the President should immediately sign it into law in order to give effect to his promise to ensure the welfare of the Nigerian workers.

It was recently rumoured that the President has signed the bill into law giving workers hope that they may start enjoying the new minimum wage before the May day celebration, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

Both Chambers of the National Assembly passed N30,000 as the new national minimum, increasing the government recommendation of N27,000, but Ozo-Eson said the delay by Mr President over the wage for workers in the country has become very worrisome.

He said “We are concerned that it has taken this long, since the transmission from the National Assembly to the presidency of the bill that both house and the Senate passed.

“We have thought that given all processes before arriving at that point. The long delay in setting up a tripartite committee, the long period before the tripartite committee to now finalized and all the debates that have gone on

“We thought that this was something Mr President will ascent to very quickly. Because as we have earlier indicated, we will want this implementation to be on before May. That is by May Day workers can be assured of the direction of implementation

“Our position is to call on Mr. President to without further delay to ascent to the New National Minimum Wage bill. So that workers can start to enjoy the new minimum wage implementation before May Day.

He emphasized that apart from the public sector, workers in the private sector were also waiting for the law to be implemented in order to make its own full negotiations and plans, while insisting that in implementing the new national minimum wage would also allow the economy to be operated in an environment of certainty.

Credit: The Nation

Minimum wage and ASUU wars lost once again

Minimum wage and ASUU wars lost once again

By Dele Sobowale

They came forth to war, but, they always fell —James Macpherson, 1736-1796.

JAMES Macpherson was the father of Sir John Macpherson, a former governor-general of Nigeria, who handed the baton of office to Sir James Robertson who was our last British ruler before independence. He noticed how many times his Scottish brethren went to war against the English and have ended up defeated.

His lamentation recorded above serves as a fitting summary of the “sound and fury signifying nothing” to which the nation was treated by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in the last three or four months.

We all will remember the empty threats by the two bodies that no election will take place this year unless a minimum wage is passed and the billions owed to the universities, since Yar’Ádua’s government are paid. After thirty years writing these columns, and with a very keen recollection of other skirmishes by the two organisations, it was clear to me that another defeat stared NLC and ASUU in the face.

Nigerians went to vote on Saturday and there is no Minimum Wage Bill passed. In fact, the House of Representative Committee, which first started “working” on the Bill, soon closed shop – for three predictable reasons from previous experience. One, it was impossible to form a quorum to take decisions. Two, it was impossible to form a quorum because virtually all the members were out campaigning either for re-election of for their parties. Three, the political class, APC, APGA and PDP had successfully swindled the NLC into accepting the presentation of the Bill to the National Assembly, NASS, was a demonstration of good faith on the part of the Executive and Legislative branches of government to get a Minimum wage bill passed.

It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are –O. Henry 1862-1910.

The NLC leadership fell into a trap and were willing accomplices in the swindle for obvious reasons – obvious to strategic thinkers, that is. The strike and election disruption threats constituted the only weapons available to NLC and ASUU. Once that power is removed the two organisations can talk, shout or go on strike until dooms day and the issues on which they went to battle will no longer be resolved as they want. Again, permit me to explain.

With the elections concluded, several governors on their way out – Amosun, Ajimobi, Ambode, Yari, etc., have no incentive to work on any minimum wage bill implementation in their states. Even a fool knows that you can’t remove a lame duck governor. He is already packing his bags.

The outgoing governors, now untouchables, who will still be in charge until May and whose consent is needed for the bill to pass through various State Houses of Assembly, will provide support to their colleagues who might continue in office as well as incoming governors. At the very least, they will delay passage and implementation. It is well known that majority of governors are not prepared to pay N30,000. Now they have the upper hand in the negotiations.

All the above assume that President Buhari is re-elected. Even if he is, passage of a bill, note the word “a” because it is deliberate and because the bill that might be passed by the lawmakers might not call for N30,000. The mood of the NASS after the elections will determine what gets passed. So, even a re-elected President might not be enough to get the bill passed – if the mood in the NASS is nasty after the elections.

There is no need to list seriatim all the obstacles standing in the way of the bill. It is merely important to point out that leaders of the NLC made a strategic blunder when they agreed to call of the national strike after a hastily and ill-digested bill was sent to the NASS. Certainly, that bill, if it ever receives serious consideration by the lawmakers will be sent back to the presidency to be re-presented. There are too many vague aspects to the bill as it is. It cannot be implemented as it is.

Failures are divided into two classes; those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought— John Charles Salak

While the NLC has sent the same “Generals” to engage the “adversaries”, the ASUU almost always sends a new set of “field commanders”. The current crop, clones of the former ones, exhibit two traits of their predecessors. First, they are intelligent but not wise. Two, they are the wrong “generals” for this war. They learnt nothing from the history of past encounters with the Federal Government.

When in 2017 ASUU once again threatened to go on strike, what followed was the first paragraph of the article written in August of that year.

“I must confess that the government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process…” said the Minister of Education, our own Adamu Adamu. It was very noble of him. I cannot remember another example of a Federal Minister offering apology and confessing to a mistake by the government in my almost thirty years of writing weekly columns.

It is really noble of him – especially when one realizes that the problem was inherited from the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administrations from 2009 to 2015. It is even nobler of the minister because the former leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities were the architects of everybody’s current misfortunes. The agreements they now want to enforce were reached during the halcyon days of crude oil when crude prices rested comfortably at over $100 per barrel.

Buhari’s government reminds me of the tenant moving into a room whose previous tenant accumulated “NEPA” bills of twenty thousand naira or more before absconding. “NEPA does not care about the former tenant, they grab the innocent new occupant. But, because there is no alternative to NEPA the innocent tenant is forced to pay. It happened to me before when renting an office at Ikeja. It is blackmail plain and simple and that is what ASUU is doing now to Buhari’s administration. As usual, the charge against the unethical ASUU can be proved by going back to the history of ASUU and the FG since 2010.

Nothing has changed since then – except that ASUU in 2019 is making claims based on promises made in 2009. They allowed Jonathan to wriggle out of the agreement twice – in 2011 and 2015 – when the price of crude was over $100 per barrel. Now, they want to collect when we now pray to get $60 for the stuff and the number of public universities has escalated – thanks to the irrationalities of GEJ and Buhari.

As ASUU embarked on its march to the war front, it was clear that they were doing something without a clear thought of what they sought to achieve. They dropped their arms when apparently handed a small sum. Was that the reason for mobilisation, for disrupting universities programmes and for asking lecturers not to participate in the elections? It is doubtful. In the end, ASUU turned a serious matter into a farce. They are not sure where the money promised is and how much each university received.

These are the people training our leaders of tomorrow. Right now, the bulk of the agreement reached in 2009 remains unpaid. In 2022, another ASUU leadership will call the universities out on strike. “Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over again and accepting a different result”?

Credit: Vanguard

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.

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