The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have called on the Federal Government to prevail on state governors to implement the N18,000 minimum wage. The leadership of both organisations told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Abuja that the minimum wage was a constitutional matter and should not be debated.
Mr Owei Lakemfa, the acting General Secretary of NLC, said that the Federal Government had a duty to call state governors to order on the issue. “Everybody must obey the law to avoid anarchy,” he said. Reacting to the negotiations on the new minimum wage between the Ondo State government and its workers, Mr Lakemfa said that the agreement reached at the negotiation was a violation of the constitution. “If any state government collaborates with some labour leaders to sign an agreement that seeks to undermine the minimum wage, which is a law and a constitutional matter, then it is called criminal conspiracy. “The NLC will ensure that the rights of workers are given due consideration. No governor will be allowed to suppress the benefits that workers are supposed to enjoy, he added. Mr. Lakemfa then went on to assure Ondo State workers that, Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬Ëœ they will receive the N18,000 minimum wage with arrears with effect from April 1.” He said that congress was not part of that agreement, adding that those labour leaders were only representing themselves.
“What they have done is a betrayal of workers trust.” Mr. Lakemfa argued that the revenue allocation formula was a constitutional matter and that workers should not wait for it to be deliberated upon before receiving the new minimum wage which was already a law.
Reports coming out of Ondo State earlier say workers had on Sunday called off the strike they embarked upon over the refusal to implement the new minimum wage as the state government agreed to pay N14,000 instead of N18,000. They are also reported as signing an agreement that the implementation of the N18,000 national minimum wage would not commence until an upward review of the Revenue Allocation Formula acceptable to the state was released by the Federal Government.
Mr Peter Esele, the President of TUC, also described the agreement between the Ondo State government and the union as unfortunate. “The minimum wage is already a law and should not be tied with the review of revenue allocation formula or whatever,” he said. He assured the Ondo State workers that appropriate action would be taken on the implementation of the minimum wage.
However, this position appears to run contrary to that of the President of the NLC, Abdulwahed Omar, who earlier praised the Ondo State government for its decision to pay N14,000 as minimum wage beginning from July 1. Mr Omar gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said the decision was in line with what many other state governments had agreed to do. “We commend the government of Ondo State as this will go a long way in ensuring smooth negotiations on the N18,000 minimum wage when it begins soon.”
“The Joint Negotiating Council and the state government agreed on the payment of N14,000 salary relativity to the least paid worker beginning from July 1.
“They also signed an agreement stipulating that the implementation of the N18,000 national minimum wage would not commence until there was an upward review of the revenue allocation formula,” he said.