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FG says transfer of minimum wage to concurrent list won’t work, asks states to comply

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New minimum wage effective from April 18 - Ngige

The Federal Government has told workers that the transfer of the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive list to Concurrent list would not work.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Saturday, disclosed this at the 2021 May Day celebration in Abuja.

The theme of the May Day celebration is: “COVID-19, Social and Economic Crises; Challenges for Decent Work, Social Protection and Peoples Welfare”.

Ngige said that the new minimum wage was a national law, which would not be manipulated by anyone.

“A tripartite clause arrangement which coordinated the government enacting the national minimum wage on April 18, 2019, and the President in signing the law, made it clear that the law takes effect on that day.

“That law is a national law, it is not that which you can choose for anybody that falls within the ambit of that law. It is not a question of pick and choose.

”We moved the national minimum wage from 18,000 per month to 30,000; it is an irreducible clause and we need a social protection mechanism.

“We therefore expect the states and people in the private sector to comply. Amendment of trying to expand that law or trying to bring the law into the concurrent list will not work,” he said.

Ayuba Wabba, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had earlier said that any attempt to remove the national minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List was a mischievous effort to foster crisis, chaos and anarchy in the country.

Wabba said the national minimum wage served as social protection by providing a minimum income floors to safeguard low earners.

He said: ”Our argument for the retention of the national minimum wage on the exclusive legislative list is to also propel the fact that the minimum wage is a tool for social inclusion and poverty reduction.

“For Nigerian workers, it has been a catalogue of workplace and trade union rights violations.

READ ALSO: You are mistaking minimum wage to mean salary review, Ngige tells Labour

“First is the criminal refusal by some state governors to pay the new national minimum wage and consequential increase in salaries, thus violating workers’ rights.

“We have already directed all our state councils to down tool if any governor remains adamant about paying the new national minimum wage.”

The NLC President noted thatWabba added that the weakness of the social protection system further aggravated the pain and frustration of workers.

He noted that the recent unemployment statistics of 33.3 per cent as released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), occasioned by the pandemic and arbitrary sack of workers by some state governors, had further driven the spate of insecurity being witnessed.

“Human insecurity as marked by mass unemployment is the main driver for the physical insecurity besieging our dear country.

“Part of the challenge of unemployment and insecurity is the crisis of poor governance. Weak budgļftets that led to poor appropriations and poorer budgetary oversight is the bane of our development.

“It is unfortunate and a terrible injustice to the memory of Nigeria’s founding fathers, that virtually every part of the country has been engulfed by one form of security challenge or the other,” he said.

Wabba, while however commending the efforts of the nation’s security apparatus, called for increased efforts and routing of security votes, through the normal budgetary process for proper oversight and accountability.

On casualisationconsequential of workers by consolidating the milestones already gained in the current labour law review”.

Wabba also said that Nigerian workers reject any further hike in electricity tariff, while calling for adjustments to the gas price for the power sector, suspension of gas price increases, for the next three years in order to support electricity tariff stability.

By John Chukwu…

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