Minimum Wage: Why You Can’t Dictate What To Pay, Labour Replies Govs

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has rejected the suggestion by governors that they should be allowed to determine the wages of their workers, saying among others, it not only dictatorial, but against the concept of the minimum wage.

NLC in a statement, warned the state governors against further inflammatory statements concerning the minimum wage to avoid provoking industrial unrest.

In the statement by Mr Benson Upah, NLC’s Head Information and Public Affairs, contended that it may no longer be able to withstand the pressure for industrial action should the minimum wage issue continue to be prolonged.

NLC urged President Bola Tinubu who had promised a living wage (which is superior to a minimum wage) not to allow himself be blackmailed or boxed into a corner by unpatriotic governors.

Recall that the Southern governors had few days ago asked that the governors should be allowed to negotiate what each state can pay, saying “NLC is compelled to address the recent statements made by some Nigerian Governors regarding their desire to pay what they deem fit to Nigerian workers as the minimum wage. This notion is not only dictatorial but also undermines the very essence as well as the model adopted for creating a national minimum wage in Nigeria.

“The concept of a national minimum wage is not arbitrary. It represents a national wage floor, a baseline below which no worker in the law should be paid. This threshold is a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker in the law.

“The Governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage negates this principle and threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the nationaleconomy.

“It is important to remind the Governors that the national minimum wage is not synonymous with the individual pay structures of the states which they implement religiously, reflecting their unique financial capabilities and circumstances.

“This diversity in pay structures underscores the flexibility that already exists within the system, allowing states to reward their workers in alignment with their financial realities.

“Furthermore, the Governors’ argument appears inconsistent when juxtaposed with the remuneration of political officeholders. Why is there no hue and cry when political officeholders across the nation receive uniform salaries as determined by Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission? “This double standards which piths a few privileged against the majority poor is an issue that should be of concern to those who love this country.

“We are deeply concerned by this blatant display of ignorance regarding the global best practices for national minimum wage by some of these Governors. It is evident that, despite their frequent travels abroad, they have deliberately chosen not to educate themselves on fundamental global issues crucial to successful governance.

“This level of self-imposed ignorance onbasic industrial relations matters clearly illustrates why our nation is poorly governed, resulting in unacceptable suffering of Nigerians. For this set of governors we recommend a return to school for proper education as they constitute a threat to our democracy.

“We must also use the opportunity to commend the forward-looking and progressively-minded governors (not in name but indeed) who take seriously the welfare of workers in their thoughts and policies. We will continue to identify, as well as,work with them.

“The pursuit by many governors to pay workers whatever they like deepens poverty and causes varying dimensions of insecurity. The governors are carried away by their present structure of security detail but the sword of Damocles awaits them on exit from office.

“It is unfortunate that workers’ salaries are often seen as charity rather than the hard-earned income of hardworking Nigerians. It is equally painful that some of these governors fail to realise that workers salaries substantially drive the economy. Not surprisingly, they prioritise their greed over the need of ordinary citizens.

“The fate of Nigerian workers cannot be left solely in the hands of employers, whether public or private. No sane society does that. What the governors are asking for is akin to allowing numerous companies and organizations in Nigeria to pay workers whatever they like.

“While these companies may not pay the same salaries, they must adhere to the national wage floor, and the same should apply to state governors.

“We urge President Tinubu who had promised a living wage (which is superior to a minimum wage) not to allow himself be blackmailed or boxed into a corner by unpatriotic governors.

“We urge the federal government to stop dithering on the issue of the national minimum wage because of the gang up by some selfish governors.

“The NLC urges the Governors to abandon any inclination towards dictatorial practices as the process remains a tripartite one. Accordingly, we call for policies and actions driven by equity and fairness. Ensuring a fair minimum wage is not only a matter of economic justice but also a fundamental aspect of maintaining social stability and national cohesion. Nigerian workers should not be reduced to beggars! Enough is enough!

“NLC stands firm in its commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of Nigerian workers. We will continue to advocate for a fair and equitable wage system that reflects the true spirit of our nation’s values. We call on the Governors to join us in this commitment for the benefit of all Nigerians. Let democracy flourish.”

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