The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday said 16 states of the federation are yet to implement the M30.000 national minimum wage.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who made this known during the National Administrative Council (NAC) of the Congress said its state councils have already been empowered to mobilise their members to withdraw their services once there was no show of commitment by their respective state governments towards implementing the new minimum wage of N30,000 for workers in the states.
Wabba said the states includes; Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Zamfara and Taraba.
He also disclosed that 14 states have commenced implementation of the new wage, three states have only implemented the wage for workers in level 1-6 while four states were awaiting implementation.
According to him, 16 states have signed an agreement, three states have reached an agreement but yet to sign, negotiations of the new wage was still ongoing in 17 states while Taraba state was yet to commence negotiations.
While calling on the Taraba state government to respect the provisions of the new minimum wage Act and begin negotiations immediately, Wabba emphasized that no state government has an excuse not to pay the new wage. “We have been able to make some progress. We have 16 that have signed and have commenced, we have three that have reached agreements but have not signed, we have 17 that negotiations are still ongoing.
“I can say authoritatively that its only in Taraba that nothing has started; the committee has not been inaugurated, the process of dialogue has not commenced. I want to call on the Taraba state Governor to quickly respect the provisions of the minimum wage Act. The minimum wage act is already a law and every Political office holder must respect the sanctity of our constitution and the oath of office they have sworn to uphold.
“If a worker is entitled to be paid his wages, the wages must be commensurate to what has been negotiated. In 90 percent of the countries around the world, minimum wage law is implemented and observed so we cannot be an exception.
“While appreciating those states and even the federal government that has paid all the workers under its employment including payment of arrears which has set the base and standard for states to follow, there is no excuse for any state not to pay workers a minimum wage that has been negotiated because 85% of the VAT increase goes to the states.
“We have empowered our state councils, once they reach a situation where they think there is no commitment we have given them the power to declare an action and withdraw their service and many states have done that. In Ogun and Niger they did that before they were invited to the table. We don’t need to take any decision again to say that you need to do what you need to do.
“Once the state executive council feels that there is dilly dallying on the minimum wage which is already a law, they should be able to enforce their own right and we will support and where they need reinforcements from the headquarters, we will be there to support them.”
Wabba who further reiterated NLC’s call for the downward wage review of political office holders, maintained that inline with what was obtainable in other countries, the basic salary of politicians should also fall within the margin of the new minimum wage of N30,000
“The law makers are being over paid, let’s look at the basis. In other climes like South Africa, the margin between the minimum wage and what politicians earn can be determined, in fact there are empirical data to arrive at the differential, in our own case what is the differential?
“When we were receiving N18,000 minimum wage, Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission reviewed the salary of political office holders by 800 percent today, the official salary being earned by our political elites seems to be much more higher than many countries around the world.
“I was thinking that review can be upward or downward and in the case of our political officer holders it should be downward so that we can be at the same level because we go to the same market. They should also be at the same margin of N30,000 and then you look at specific allowance or special allowances. That is what is done in other climes, there must be justification to arrive at a wage. Equal pay for work of equal value that is the position of ILO.
“If we are to be realistic, let us put the facts on the table, what is the earning; the official one and the non official one put it on the table so that there will be a process of transparency to even look at the need to review downward and what we need to review downward.”
Condemning the recent sealing of the NLC Rivers state office over the minimum wage implementation, Wabba who described the action as undemocratic, illegal and uncalled for, called not only for immediate reopening of the Secretariat.
“Our condemnation in very clear terms of the undemocratic action of the Rivers state government who went in the night to seal off the NLC Rivers state secretariat under the laughable pretense of structural integrity, it is actually a shame.
“It is in clear violation of ILO Convention 87,98 and the labour Act which restrain public authorities from taking such action. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is a fundamental human right that Nigeria ratified in 1960. We demand immediate opening of the office and respect for workers rights.
“The right to collective bargaining is the universal right of every worker, even under the military we have not experienced a situation where the office of an independent labour centre will be sealed under a false pretense and therefore we demand the office be opened immediately and let them also resume and sign the collective agreement and not to resort to blackmail and say that the situation is political. Are we approaching elections, elections have come and gone and those workers are workers of rivers. This is undemocratic and uncalled for,” he said.