Buhari promises higher minimum wage, workers excited

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – On Monday, November 27, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee to review the last minimum wage instrument and effect necessary changes.

The president explained that this move was to ensure a fair and decent living wage for workers, report says.

President Buhari said:

‘You are all aware that during the period following the increase in petrol pump price in May 2016, a technical committee was established to examine and make recommendations to government on the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.

During the deliberations of the technical committee, which comprised government and organised labour, the need for the review of the National Minimum Wage was highlighted and recommendation to set up a committee to look into the level of minimum wage was made accordingly. I am glad that the recommendation is being acted upon today and we can all acknowledge that this is in line with our democratic process. I wish to thank all those who participated in that exercise.’

The president assured that the membership of the committee was all-inclusive and hoped that the outcome of their deliberations will be generally acceptable.

He urged members of the committee to look into national minimum wage and all ancillary matters thoroughly with focus on the welfare of workers and the resultant effect on the economy.

The president also said:

‘The subject of a National Minimum Wage for the Federation is within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Accordingly, we should aim to go above the basic Social Protection Floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of government to pay.

I say this because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and, as such, should be anchored on social justice and equity.

Government’s decision after considering your final recommendation will be sent as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for it to undergo appropriate legislative scrutiny before passage into law.

As is evident by the membership of the committee, state governors and private sector employers are part of this process. This will ensure ease of implementation of a new Minimum Wage nationwide.

I am hopeful that the principles of full consultation with Social Partners and their direct participation would be utilized by the Committee, bearing in mind the core provisions of the International Labour Organisation Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No.26 (ratified by Nigeria).

Accordingly, conditions of genuine Social Dialogue should prevail in the spirit of Tripartism and Collective Bargaining Agreements. I, therefore, enjoin you all to collectively bargain in good faith, have mutual recognition for each other and always in a spirit of give and take.

The Committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations as soon as possible to enable other requisite machinery to be set in motion for implementation of a new National Minimum Wage.’

Ama Pepple, a former head of service of the federation, is to chair the committee. Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, is to be the deputy chairman. While, the secretary of the committee is to be Chief Richard Ebgule, the chairman of National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

In reaction to the inauguration of the committee, Ngige said:

‘Today is a remarkable day because this is a journey we started in May 2016. In May 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to do appropriate pricing for petroleum products and because of that, the pump price of petroleum and kerosene and others had to take their real pricing.

Coincidentally, some weeks before then, the Trade Union Congress and National Labour Congress (NLC) served the government a notice that the minimum wage would lapse in the next one month. They made a proposal to Mr. President on what they think will be the realistic national minimum wage.

At the time the fuel price was increased, there was disquiet, resulting in industrial dispute between the labour unions on one side and the government on the other side.

Those recommendations came to council and council approved them and set up a 30-man minimum wage committee.’

The minister explained that the minimum wage is intended to remove what the International Labour Organisation (ILO) describes as ‘poverty pain’.

Other members of the committee include: Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and Planning; Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance; Winifred Oyo-Ita, head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The committee also include delegates from Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and employer associations.

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