SERAP threatens Nigerian govt over plans on minimum wage - Ripples Nigeria
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SERAP threatens Nigerian govt over plans on minimum wage

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to “ensure that his government’s proposed bill on new minimum wage for Nigerian workers is entirely consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international obligations to promote and advance the right of workers to an adequate living wage.”

The president had in his Democracy Day Speech on June 12 stated that “We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine the new minimum wage as part of our law for the next five years or less.”

The group said it would take “appropriate legal actions to compel the government to comply with its request in the public interest”, if the government sends to the National Assembly any bill which fails to meet the requirements of international standards.

In a letter dated 15 June 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “the reportedly proposed level of the minimum wage in the executive bill is grossly inadequate and falls short of the requirements of international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP said, “The executive bill should reflect the international standards that Nigerian workers should be provided, at a minimum, with a living wage, in accordance with costs of living.”

According to SERAP, “As you and your government know, Nigerian workers face many human rights challenges. Most of the people living in poverty work, yet they do not earn a wage sufficient to afford an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families.”

The letter, read in part: “Any proposed minimum wage that fails to guarantee a life in dignity for Nigerian workers and their families would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international standards.

“Successive governments have persistently and systematically violated these guarantees. Millions of Nigerian workers remain poor due mainly to low wages and a lack of social security and social protection.

“If your government sends to the National Assembly any bill which fails to meet the requirements of international standards, and the bill is then passed into law, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.

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“The proposed recommendations are not unrealistic, as they are based on Nigeria’s international human rights obligations. Human rights are not a matter of charity. Upholding Nigeria’s international obligations regarding the right of workers to an adequate living wage would protect the purchasing power of workers in poverty.

“The preparation of the executive bill provides you and your government an important opportunity to respect, protect, promote and advance the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage and fair remuneration.

“We urge you to take concrete steps to defend the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage.

“This would ensure that the proposed executive bill protects not only against absolute poverty but also against relative poverty, as a source of social exclusion.

“Your government has legal obligations to reflect these guarantees in any executive bill on the new minimum wage to be sent to the National Assembly.

“The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights imposes clear legal obligations on your government to ensure and uphold the right of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage that would ensure a decent standard of living for the workers and their families.

“We urge you to put the country’s resources at the service of human rights, and to advance Nigerian workers’ right to an adequate living wage by immediately cutting the cost of governance and implementing bold transparency and accountability measures in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“We urge you and your government to urgently propose cuts in the huge budgetary allocations to fund security votes, jumbo salaries and allowances paid to members of the National Assembly, and unlawful life pensions to former governors and their deputies.

“We also urge you and your government to immediately and fully recover missing public funds from MDAs, as documented in the several reports published by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

“These would enable you and your government to effectively comply with Nigeria’s international legal obligations regarding workers’ right to an adequate living wage.”

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