Tinubu to consult govs, OPS on minimum wage — FG

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TinubuABUJA — President Bola Tinubu said yesterday he will consult with the 36 state governors and members of the organized private sector, OPS, before arriving at the figure that will be submitted to the National Assembly in the form of an Executive Bill as the new national minimum wage.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Tinubu at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The minister said a memo on the report of the new minimum wage was presented to the council but noted that it was stepped down, being a national matter that had to do with the governors and the organized private sector.

He said it was after wider consultations with the relevant stakeholders that the President, with informed knowledge, would then forward a figure that would be the national minimum wage.

Recall that at the end of the tripartite committee meeting on the new national minimum wage, the government team and organized private sector offered N62,000 from the current N30,000 but Labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, demanded N250,000 living wage.

The decision of the President to consult the relevant stakeholders is coming on the heels of a statement by the President of the NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero, that Labour had expected the President to reach out to members of the tripartite committee to harmonize the figure.

Comrade Ajaero had hinged his position on the fact that there was a stalemate at the end of the tripartite committee meetings.

But briefing State House correspondents, the minister said: “I want to inform Nigerians here that the Federal Executive Council, FEC, deliberated on that (report of the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage) and the decision is that because the new national minimum wage is not just that of the federal government, it is an issue that involves the federal, state, local governments, and organized private sector and, of course, organized labour.

“That memo was stepped down to enable Mr. President to consult further, especially with the state governors and organized private sector, before he makes a presentation to the National Assembly, and before an executive bill is presented to the National Assembly.

“So I want to state that on the new national minimum wage, Mr. President is going to consult further, so he can have an informed position because the new national minimum wage, like I said, is not just an issue of the Federal Government.

“It affects the state governments, it affects the local governments, it also affects the organized private sector, and that is why it is called national minimum wage. It’s not just an affair of the Federal Government.

“So, Mr. President has studied the report and he’s going to consult wider before a final submission is made to the National Assembly.”

Era of paying slave wage gone—Labour

Reacting to the president’s decision yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which spoke on behalf of organised labour, said the Federal Government has the right to consult whoever it wants to consult, saying what was clear is the fact that the era of paying slave wage is gone.

Speaking with Vanguard, NLC’s General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said: “We are waiting for them. One thing is clear and that is the era of paying slave wages is gone.

‘’As workers, we cannot be slaves or live in a slave camp in our country. The workplace is about tripartism. In the world of work today, the global practice is tripartism. That is the government, the employers and the workers.

“Nigeria cannot be different in the comity of nations. So, the era of slaves and slave camps is gone for good. So, we are waiting for them to consult and take decision.”

Any amount above N62,000 will create crisis, job losses — NECA

In his reaction, Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, Adewale Oyerinde, warned that any approval of new national minimum wage above N62,000 would cause crisis and lead to job losses.

Oyerinde, who stated this on the sidelines of the Third Nigeria’ Employers Summit on “Economic Renaissance: Harnessing Government Reforms and Private Sector Agility,” in Abuja yesterday, said it is painful to accept the N62,000 and that it was based on a certain premise.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the waiting game on the national minimum wage, he said: “There’s no waiting game and I think we have to put all this in context. And all this misinformation, I think we are just creating unnecessary tension.

‘’There’s a process and we don’t seem to be on the same page. There’s a process of the tripartite committee sitting to recommend the national minimum wage.

“Once the minimum wage figures are recommended, we pass it to the president, which we have done. And the president is the sovereign. They have to pick the recommendation of the committee; do I accept it or I don’t accept it?

“The President remains the sovereign. That position is not contested, the employers cannot contest it.
Labour cannot contest it. It is the sovereign that should pick a figure, and then pass it to the National Assembly to go through a legislative process. In that process, we can only advocate that it be fast-tracked.

“We cannot put a gun in somebody’s head and say, look, you have to do this, it’s tomorrow, you have to do it. It doesn’t work like that. Now, for us, and we have said it and we’ll say it again openly, the N62,000 the employers came up with was based on a premise.

“It was painful conceding that we did. And it was based on a certain premise. And one of those, or two of those, or three of those is the new electricity tariff, the government has to suspend it. That is one. That there should be an embargo on the introduction of new taxes.

“This speaks to the National Assembly as we speak. I hear the representative of the speaker saying he’s going to declare open a public hearing on CSR.

“It’s not a part of the issues we had. The House wants to legislate on CSR to make it compulsory. It is corporate social responsibility for God’s sake.

“It’s the prerogative of the business to say this is what I want to do. So you don’t legislate it. It’s another tax which we are also going to contest.

“So those are part of the conditions we gave for us to agree on the N62,000 minimum wage. Now, if it goes above N62,000, you have created two or three different dynamics. One, you have set the tone for non-compliance.

“That is one. Because if I cannot pay, I just can’t pay. Now, you have created a problem for the judiciary. All employees who are not satisfied have the right, according to the Act, to go to the National Industrial Court, NIC.

“Now, imagine 1,000, 2,000 employees, 5,000 employees across the country going to the National Industrial Court. How long will the Industrial Court take to dispense almost 5,000 cases? That is one.
“Two, you have also set in the process another dangerous pattern. We already have businesses leaving now.

All of us are not interrogating where our brothers and sisters working in those companies will go to? Where are they? So, a figure beyond what the private sector can pay may also lead to a loss of jobs.

“Now, we complain about insecurity. So, we have to put all those together. And a fundamental, lastly for me, on this minimum wage issue, a fundamental element in setting up a national minimum wage that you cannot take away is the ability to pay. If you take away the ability to pay, then you have just set a crisis stage.”

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