By Joshua Egbodo
The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to amend the National Minimum Wage Act, with a view to making it mandatory for the wage to be reviewed every five years.
Sponsored by Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the bill, which was introduced for first reading on the floor on May 17, 2017, proposes that an existing minimum wage might be retained for another term, but not beyond once, while its commencement would take effect from January 1, “irrespective of the day the bill comes into force.”
The clause to that effect, to amend Section 9 of the Minimum Wage Act, states that ‘Review’ as used in the proposal “means either maintaining status quo which shall not be maintained for two consecutive periods, or upward review.”
Leading debate on its general principles yesterday, Gbajabiamila blamed the regular agitation for upward review of the minimum wage by workers across the country on inflation, describing salaries as the “major component of workers’ welfare.”
He said: “It is unfortunate that there is no law that compels or mandates the government to review workers’ salaries periodically. It is rather done at whims and caprices of the government, no matter what the situation.
“This review is not a privilege, but fundamental right of the citizens. You cannot say you are fighting corruption without giving the people the leeway to put bread on their tables.”
Speaking in support of the bill, Chairman of the Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said the bill was not only apt, but would also ensure that government does not neglect workers, adding that review of workers’ salaries would encourage efficiency in the workforce.
Also contributing, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye argued that the current minimum wage was grossly inadequate for the survival of an average Nigerian worker, and warned that failure of government to review the current minimum wage from N18, 000 could aid corrupt practices among workers.