President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, says with the signing into law of the N30,000 new minimum wage, any state that violated its provisions would be sued.
Concise News reports that Wabba made this known on Tuesday at the opening of the NLC 2019 national leadership retreat in Enugu, southeast Nigeria.
“While other countries have fully accommodated and automated the process of minimum wage adjustments and are now focused on living wages, we are faced with a situation where we are forced to bargain too hard and wait for too long for meager increases in minimum wage and adjustments in salary,” he said.
“Let me also inform you that there is a difference between the law we have and the law that has existed from 1981 till date. In 1981 when the first minimum wage was enacted, there was no provision for sanctions. In this one we negotiated, there is a provision for sanctions because it is already a law. Any state or person that violates the provision of the law, there are three ways to address it: one is that the worker can report to his union.
“Once you report, we can look at the means and avenues, including court, to enforce the provision of the law. So now there is a clout to enforce the provisions of the law. Clearly speaking, once there’s understanding or agreement about the issue of consequential adjustment, the issue is settled and where there is the issue of non-respect for the law, it can be enforced legally in a court of law.”
The labour leader said that Nigeria cannot be complaining of lack of funds to pay workers decent wages and invest in public infrastructure cum social services “when we have a lot of public funds in private pockets.”
“It is no longer discussed in hushed tones that the government is struggling with liquidity. As we know, this crisis is rooted in bad governance. Two things define bad governance in this respect – institutionalization of corruption in public expenditure and weaknesses cum sabotage in internal revenues accruable to government. On corruption in public expenditure, the issue of humongous salaries and allowances paid to elected public officials and contract inflation top the list of our concerns,” he added.
“On the other hand, the loss of government revenue due to internal sabotage by unpatriotic public officials is very alarming and worrisome.”
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has advised the federal government to pay five months arrears of the new national minimum wage because the wage bill was signed into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari in April this year.
The TUC gave the advice after the Nigerian government and organised labour finally agreed on the consequential adjustment for other categories of workers following a three-day negotiation.
According to the agreement, core civil servants on grade level 7 will have (23.2 per cent) adjustment; grade level 8 (20 per cent); grade level 9 (19 per cent); grade levels 10 to 14 (16 per cent); and grade levels 15 to 17, (14 per cent).
“We wish to advise that since the 2019 National Minimum Wage was signed into Law by Mr President on April 18, 2019, the implementation should start from that date so as not to trigger another avoidable round of agitation by public service employees and their trade unions,” a statement from Anchaver Simon, the acting Chairman of the TUC, and the union’s Secretary, Alade Lawal, read.
“We are also glad that the government has taken note of the need for a general salary review in the public service. We are looking forward to this review and we hope that the Federal Government will keep to its promise which was made during the negotiation of consequential adjustments.”