A Non-Governmental Organisation, Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative, on Monday, approached the National Industrial Court to declare that the Federal Government’s refusal to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage to workers constitutes forced labour.
In a suit filed at the NIC, Abuja, the counsel for the Incorporated Trustees of LRAI, Olumide Babalola, said the federal government’s non-payment of the N30,000 minimum wage was a breach of Section 9(2)(c) of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2019.
“The respondent’s payment of salaries less than the minimum wage constitutes forced labour in violation of the provision of Section 34(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended),” the lawyer said.
Also, the Project Director of LRAI, Olivia Audu, in a 10-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the suit, said she was aware that the two chambers of the National Assembly had passed the National Minimum Wage (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019 into law.
“In April 2019, the respondent (federal government) assented to the said bill thereby making it an Act of the National Assembly.
“The provision of Section 3 of the Act increased the minimum wage to N30, 000 with effect from April 2019.
“I know, as a fact that since April 2019 up till the time of filing this suit, the respondent has been paying less than N30,000 stipulated as the minimum wage in the new Act.
“I know that the workers affected do not have a choice of work elsewhere, hence they are forced to remain in the employment of the respondent despite the inadequacy of wages earned.
“I believe that from the particulars given above, the respondent’s act of paying less than the minimum wage violates the workers right to dignity of the human person and it amounts to forced labour,” Audu said.
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