The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the N27,000 new National Minimum Wage adopted by the National Council of State on Tuesday. Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, the NLC General Secretary, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the council 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.
Ozo-Eson, however, said the NLC has called an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.
The NLC general scribe added that the Federal Government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.
“This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the United Labour Congress (ULC) called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to unfailingly transmit a bill containing N30, 000 minimum wage; which is the product of collective bargaining in the Tripartite Committee report to the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Following the approval of N27,000 by the National Council of State as the new national minimum wage on Tuesday, the ULC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), swiftly rejected the figure, saying that the Council of State lacks the constitutional power to approve or recommend minimum wage.
To the ULC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, the Council of State might have been playing their advisory role, thus only advising President Buhari and not recommending a minimum wage.
Comrade Ajaero said the Council of state has no legal power to approve or recommend minimum wage. In an interview with TribuneOnline, the ULC President said: “The Council of State does not have any constitutional power to approve or recommend minimum wage.
“So, if the Council of State is talking about N27,000 or N30,000, they are just being advisory. The Council of State cannot recommend minimum wage. So, we are still expecting Mr President to transmit the product of the collective bargaining in the Tripartite Committee report to the National Assembly tomorrow.”
He added: “There is nothing to be done to deny Nigerian workers any kobo from the N30,000 agreed by the Tripartite group. Maybe the Council of State advised him. That should be advisory.”
Also, in a statement issued by the ULC, the Congress said the unilateral N27,000 national minimum wage is unacceptable, saying, “The emerging news of the unfortunate decision of the Federal Government through the National Council of State to unilaterally propose N27,000 as the new National Minimum Wage is shocking and goes against the grain of all known traditions and practices of Industrial Relations especially as it concerns National Minimum Wage setting framework.
Rising from its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Tuesday in Lagos, the statement said the ULC “Rejects in its entirety the proposed N27,000 which is contrary to the N30,000 agreed by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee and which has since been submitted to the President.”
The statement, also signed by Comrade Ajaero said: “We state that the National Council of State in a National Minimum Wage setting mechanism is an aberration. It is also important that we make it clear that the National Council of State does not have powers to approve, confirm, affirm or accept any figure as the new National Minimum Wage.
“What they have pretended to have done is therefore without any force of Law, standards or other known practices of Industrial Relations the world over.”
He added: “It is a mockery of the essence and principle behind the setting of a National Minimum Wage to attempt to segregate it between Federal Workers and State Workers.
“We want to state that workers are workers everywhere whether at the Federal Level or at the State Level. They all have the same challenges; go to the same market, same schools and much more they suffer the same fate. You cannot, therefore, pay them differently.”
The ULC warned: “We will however in the next few days in consultation with other Labour Centres if they are still in the struggle for a just national minimum wage take steps to ensure that the interests of Nigerian workers as it concerns the National Minimum Wage are protected.
“We urge the President to disregard the pronouncement of the National Council of State as it ridicules the statutes and principles governing the nation. The only honourable path he should tread is to transmit the N30,000 figure as agreed by the Tripartite Committee and even the President on the day of submission of the Committee’s report.
“We will not accept the use of any cover of state to jettison the collective will of Nigerian workers and the trade union movement.”
In its own reaction, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) also rejected outrightly the new National Minimum wage of N27, 000 as recommended by the National Council of State.
The congress pointed out that the fact that the federal government agrees to pay N30, 000 notwithstanding; it would not accept it.
In a statement signed by the TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and the Secretary-General, Comrade Musa Lawal, the Congress said the Council of State decision, though advisory in nature, “is weighty and may give the semblance of authority to the decision.
“This decision must not be allowed to stand because it will set the wrong precedent for the future: i.e, after statutory bodies have done their jobs, Council of State will now sit to review it.”
The statement added: “Let it be known that N30,000 minimum wage is a product of negotiation, not legislation, not advise and not a decree.
“Minimum wage issue, therefore, is moving to a new theatre, the National Assembly. We expect the representative of the people if really they are to do the needful during the public hearing.”