NLC rejects N27, 000 minimum wage, threatens shutdown

Rising from its one-day meeting on Tuesday, the National Council of State, pegged the national minimum wage at N27, 000 for states and the private sector, and N30, 000 for the federal workers.

President Muhammadu Buhari presided at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the council also approved frequency of review of five years for the minimum wage, and approved exemptions for business concerns not employing up to 25 persons.

The minister, however, said the federal government has resolved to pay its workers N30, 000 as minimum wage, while state governments are free to negotiate with their respective staff.

The organised labour represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, is insisting on a N30, 000 minimum wage.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the minister assured that, as agreed with organised labour, the national minimum wage bill will be transmitted to the National Assembly before the close of work on Wednesday.

The labour minister said the council took into consideration the tripartite committee’s recommendations of N30, 000, federal government’s proposal of N24, 000 and the governors’ proposal of N22, 700 before arriving at the decision.

Ngige assured that despite the announcement by the National Assembly to proceed on recess until after the elections, relevant committees in the National Assembly will continue work on the bill.

In attendance at the meeting were  a former Head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan; former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan,  former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar,  Vice President  Yemi Osinbajo,  Senate President Bukola Saraki, and a former  Chief Justice of the Federation, Mohammed Uwais.

Also in attendance were;   Governors of  Osun state; Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, that of Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu; Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari; Plateau, Simon Lalung;  Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, Adamawa, Jibrailla Bindow;  Edo, Godwin Obaseki;  Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode;  Niger, Abubakar Sani-Bello, Borno, Kashim Shettima;  Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun;  Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi;  Kogi, Yahaya Bello, as well as the deputy governors of Bauchi, Kaduna, and Rivers.

The rest include; the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno(retd); Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello; and his labour counterpart.

Labour kicks

Reacting to the proposal however, the Organised Labour described it as regrettable, saying it is not a product of the tripartite meeting they participated in.

Speaking in separate interviews with Blueprint yesterday, both President of United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero and General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson, said their organs would be meeting to decide on the next line of action.

On his part, Ajaero said, the NCS should rather serve as an advisory body and not to tamper with the outcome of the tripartite committee.

“I don’t think the council of state, part of their responsibility is to fix salary, unless they advise. But there is no organ whether National Council of State or Federal Executive Council that can repel the product of tripartite committee, which consists of government, employers of labour and workers.

“To us, after arriving at N30.000 as a minimum wage for workers, we are waiting for the president to transmit the said amount to the National Assembly tomorrow (today) as promised.

“However, we are afraid that our colleagues may have compromised that since they attended the meeting of 5 and 6 of January 2019 on this issue, because that meeting was not necessary after the committee had produced a result of N30.000,” he said.

On his part, the NLC scribe rejected the “unilateral decision that cannot stand.”

He said the National Executive Council meeting would hold on Friday, to decide on the next line of action on the matter.

Like Ajaero, he’s of the view that the NCS has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee has submitted its report.

“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27, 000 through the council of states,” he said.

He said the federal government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action, saying “workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday.”

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