Minimum wage: We‘re running out of patience, Wabba tells Presidency

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has expressed concerns over the delay by President Muhamadu Buhari to transmit an executive bill on the agreed N30, 000 Minimum wage, to the National Assembly.

The National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee was mandated to review the current N18, 000 minimum wage.

And at the end of its meeting two weeks ago, the committee submitted its report to President Buhari, recommending N30, 000.00

However, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) bluntly declared that they can’t pay the figure presented by the committee.

Speaking at this year’s Harmattan School of the Congress holding in Abuja, Comrade Wabba said, workers were running out of patience on the delayed implementation of the new wage.

He described as unfortunate the governors’ declaration to the effect that they lacked the capability to pay the N30,000, yet spending billions of dollars in the name of security votes which, according to him, they can’t account for.

The NLC boss debunked the claim in some quarters that once the minimum wage is increased, there would be inflation.

He recalled that in 2008, the salaries of political office holders were increased by 800 percent but didn’t cause inflation, wondering why just N30,000 for workers would cause inflation.

“We don’t know why the president has not transmitted an executive bill, the report of the tripartite committee to the National Assembly for an enactment into law, because workers patience is running out.

“We have maintained that any governor that said he can’t pay the N30, 000 should go to his state, gather workers and tell them. They are spending billions of dollars in the name of security votes, but once it comes to payment of N30, 000 minimum wage, they are saying workers are just 20 percent.

“How can they say that because without workers which include health workers, police, army and others, most politicians can’t sleep. Minimum wage is not a favour but a right of a worker because the law states that after 30days, a labourer is worthy of his wage,” Wabba declared.

He vowed that Labour would press on for the payment of two years arrears since the act stipulated that the national minimum wage shall be reviewed every five years.

Blueprint reports that the National Minimum Wage Act 2011 was due for review since 2016.

ILO laments low wages, salaries

Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has lamented low salaries in the developing world with take-home pay growth overall at its lowest since 2008.

The UN labour agency in its Global Wage Report 2018/19 released yesterday, also said that pay rose by just 0.4 per cent during last year in advanced economies.

The report, however, said wages grew higher and faster in developing countries in 2017 than in richer nations, at over four per cent.

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, however, noted that wages in developing countries increasing more quickly than those in higher-income countries should not be exaggerated.

Ryder said: “That sounds like good news, because we all want to see convergence around the world. But let’s not exaggerate, because the gaps are still very, very big.

“Very often the level of wages is still not high enough for people to meet their basic needs. Overall, global wage growth declined to 1.8 per cent in 2017 from 2.4 per cent in 2016, according to the findings, which were based on data from 136 countries.

In the last 20 years, average real wages had almost tripled in emerging and developing G20 countries, the ILO report also found. On the other hand, in advanced G20 countries, they have increased by just nine per cent,” the body noted.

Faced with such low salary growth in richer economies in 2017 – with pay growing at its lowest level in a decade – the ILO chief expressed concern that “this has happened despite a recovery in global output”.

“It’s puzzling that in high-income economies we see slow wage growth alongside a recovery in GDP growth and falling unemployment.

“Wages are still growing much less slowly than productivity. I think that has implications for demand; if you haven’t got money in your pocket, you can’t spend money,” he said.

The ILO chief noted that “if you can’t spend money, enterprises suffer” and “investment opportunities become more rare.”

For the first time, the ILO report also focused on the global gender pay gap, using data from 70 countries and some 80 per cent of employees worldwide.

Its findings indicated that despite some significant regional differences, men continue to be paid around 20 per cent more than women.

This, the ILO chief called “perhaps the biggest single injustice in the world of work”.

“This goes diametrically against this basic principle of equal pay for work of equal value,” Ryder added.

He noted that it had featured “in the constitution of the ILO for the last 100 years”, and also figures among the goals the international community has agreed to achieve by 2030, as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

In high-income countries, the gender pay gap is at its biggest in top-salaried positions, according to the report.

In low and middle-income countries, however, the gap is widest among lower-paid workers, the ILO report found.

Its data also suggested that traditional explanations for this-such as differences in the levels of education between men and women who work – play only a “limited” role in explaining gender pay gaps.

“In many countries women are more highly educated than men but earn lower wages, even when they work in the same occupational categories.

“The wages of both men and women also tend to be lower in enterprises and occupations with a predominantly female workforce,” said ILO expert Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez.

To reduce gender pay gaps, she recommended that more emphasis should be placed on ensuring equal pay for women and men, and on addressing the lower value placed on women’s work. NAN

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