NLC faults move to change minimum wage law
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday condemned the plan by the Senate to remove the Minimum Wage Law from the Exclusive List, describing the move as as inimical to the well-being of the weak and economically disadvantaged persons in the country.
The NLC President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, in a statement, said that the move would impinge on the national security, productivity and well-being of the low-income earners.
Omar said that allowing states the discretion to fix their own minimum wages was a recipe for trouble for workers in the country. To him, the inclusion of the minimum wage in the concurrent list would lead to confusion.
According to him, if given the opportunity to fix their respective minimum wages, state governments will not hesitate to pay minimum wages as low as N1,000 to their workers in spite of the huge resources available to them.
His words, 'The Nigeria Labour Congress notes with concern efforts by the Senate to remove the national Minimum Wage Law from the Exclusive List in defiance of reason, popular opinion and protection of the interest of the weak and the vulnerable.
'The removal will unnecessarily expose Nigerian workers, especially, those in the low-income bracket, with grave implications for security, productivity and national well-being, as most state governments if given the latitude, will pay wages as low as N1,000 per month in spite of the relatively enormous resources available to them.
'This fear is justified or underscored by the reluctance or refusal of some of them to implement the N18, 000 Minimum Wage Law. Even for some of them that implemented the law, it took a heroic struggle.'
NLC, Omar added, had demanded the retention of the Minimum Wage Law in the Exclusive List for the maintenance of a standard national minimum wage as obtainable in the developed world and for protecting the weak and vulnerable workers, in a memo to the National Assembly on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
The boss of the Nigerian labour centre said that in spite of the N18, 000 Minimum Wage, the Nigerian workers remained among the least paid in the world.
He said the high cost of living in the country has made nonsense of even the current minimum, noting particularly the rise in inflation resulting in abominable costs for food, accommodation, and utilities.