Minimum wage: Again, Labour threatens mass protest

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, have concluded plans to protest the removal of the National Minimum Wage from the purview of the Federal Government by the Senate.
The unions stated yesterday that directives have been issued to their over 60 affiliates throughout the country to be battleready against the move.
A statement signed by TUC National President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and Secretary General, Comrade Musa Lawal, noted that both unions had agreed to shut down the proposal by mobilising Nigerian workers.
It expressed surprise that the Senate, while proposing the decentralisation of minimum wage, voted for life pension for its leadership.

The statement said: “It must be noted that in the first place, the very essence of the concept is to ensure that employees particularly the unorganised and unskilled, are not exploited by their employers to the extent that their pay become so low that it creates a poor of the working masses. “Minimum wage is not a living wage; as such it guarantees mere bare existence for workers in the formal sector-public and private. It also influences wages in the informal sector.

“To underscore its importance, the National Assembly has legislated on the minimum wage from N125, 00 in 1981 to N5, 500 in 2001. And in 2011, the current minimum wage of N18, 000 was signed. Alas, the governors suddenly realised the minimum wage matter should be concurrent rather than exclusive.
Who are they serving? The motive however, is not far-fetched: decentralise labour and turn the workers into political thugs for the purpose of self-serving politicians.

“We will never allow this because even if the states legislate for state workers (concurrent), who legislate for the private sector. This is why we must mobilise to kick against the senate’s uninformed position.
“We are of the opinion that states’ determination of minimum wage and other established emoluments for staff of civil service of the states, institutions, bodies and agencies established and managed by the government Councils and Local Government Services Commissions will introduce politics into wage determination, in particular during elections, as was the case in the First Republic.
We insist that the senate should leave item 34 of the 1999 constitution and allow minimum wage determination to remain in the Exclusive List.

“We need to stay with the tradition; we need to strengthen, not weaken the protection of the most vulnerable segment of our nation; we also need to avoid the development of a segmented labour market.
“Nigerians must wake and join hands with labour to ensure the minimum wage remain in the exclusive list. This is why this collaboration between the Nigeria Labour Congress and the TUC must be hailed once again.”

National Mirror
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