is set for showdown with state governments that may not be ready for immediate
implementation of the new minimum wage.
Officials said on Tuesday that after securing an agreement with
the Federal Government, it is now time to get the states to key into the
implementation. But many states are not financially healthy.
Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba said Labour would, among other
actions, take states that fail to implement the wage law to court.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2019 NLC National Leadership
Retreat holding at Nike Lake Hotel in Enugu, he said: “While other countries
have fully accommodated and automated the process of minimum wage adjustments
and are now focused on living wages, we are faced with a situation where we are
forced to bargain too hard and wait for too long for meager increases in
minimum wage and adjustments in salary.
“There is a difference between the law we have and the law that
has existed from 1981 till date. In 1981, when the first minimum wage was
enacted, there was no provision for sanctions. In this one, there is a
provision for sanctions because it is already a law.
“For any state or person that violates the provision of the law,
a worker can make a report. Once we get the report, we can look at the means,
including approaching the court, to enforce the provision of the law.”
Wabba said Nigeria cannot complain of lack of funds “when we
have a lot of public funds in private pockets”.
He added: “It is no longer discussed in hushed tones that the
government is struggling with liquidity. This crisis is rooted in bad governance.
“Two things define bad governance in this respect: the
institutionalization of corruption in public expenditure and weaknesses cum
sabotage in internal revenues accruable to government.
“On corruption in public expenditure, the issue of humongous salaries
and allowances paid to elected public officials and contract inflation tops the
list of our concerns.
“On the other hand, the loss of government revenue due to
internal sabotage by unpatriotic public officials is very alarming and
He urged the Federal Government to reject additional loans from
the World Bank and to recover what International Oil Companies (IOCs) owe.
“We call on the Federal Government not to rest on its oars until
it recovers every kobo owed us by the IOCs. Government officials behind this
criminal neglect must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“We call for a tax system that captures many businesses; rich
people must be compelled by government to pay more taxes commensurate with
their income,” Wabba said.
collective diligence and persistence will put smiles on the faces of millions
of Nigerian workers and take many families out of poverty.
“But, I must charge us that it is not yet Uluru. We call on all
our State Councils to offer the needed leadership and work harmoniously with
the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint National Public Service
Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) to ensure effective implementation of the new
national minimum wage and consequential salary adjustment, which must be
reached through a process of collective bargaining.
“While commending state governments that have already commenced
implementation of the new national minimum wage, we urge that the
implementation should be a product of collective bargaining process in line
with ILO Convention 98 on Organizing and Collective Bargaining.
“We also implore all employers of labour to ensure that the
necessary formalities for smooth implementation of the negotiated salaries
based on the new national minimum wage are carried out diligently.”
NLC General Secretary Emmanuel Ugbaoja said: “Our people have a
mandate to go and negotiate with open mind and hoping that every state will
open their books. We don’t expect that anybody will disobey the law of the
“We expect them to be reasonable in the way they (state
governments) will do the consequential adjustment. We will take every issue as
it comes along.
“We won’t balance now and begin to threaten brimstone and fire.
We will consider all options, but we are not going to start with threats.
“We are going to negotiate with open mind. Whatever hand they
bring will determine how we will respond.”
Asked if labour expects state governments to adopt the same
template agreed at the federal level, he said: “We have taken precedence. Some
state governors will do better, some will do equally a little below.
“It depends on the chief executive and what his priorities are
and how seriously he takes his work as a governor and what resources are
available to him. So, it varies.
“Some will do better than the Federal Government, some will do
as good as the Federal Government and some will do slightly below the Federal
Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi promised that his
administration would prioritise workers’ welfare.
He said: “Enugu State workers will get a better deal in the
implementation of the consequential increase in the minimum wage.”