Minimum wage panel begins meetings today


The National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee recently inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari will hold its inaugural meeting today.

The panel is made up of representatives of the Federal and state governments, as well as the private sector.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates also have members in the committee.

But the NLC yesterday gave indication that it will resist any attempt by governors to frustrate the exercise on the ground that it was an attempt to impose equal wages on the states.

NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke at the National Executive Council meeting of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria in Abuja, said the idea of having a minimum wage for workers across the country was part of ILO convention, which Nigeria has since ratified.

He said the workers are demanding a minimum wage and not equal wages, stressing that when the tripartite committee agreed on N18,000 minimum wage, states went back to agree with their workers on what to pay.

Wabba stressed that while some paid above the agreed minimum, others stayed within the minimum.

He said: “What we are talking about is that minimum that a worker should earn and not the maximum. I have heard argument by some governors that you cannot impose the same salary structure on all the states. That is not what we are demanding. We are demanding for the minimum that should be paid and what that means is that you cannot go below that; but you can go above it.

“In any case, why are the governors complaining when it comes to the workers? The salaries of governors and political appointees are fixed by the National Salary Income and Wages Commission and they earn the same thing irrespective of their state. If they can earn the same, why can’t workers earn the same.

“We are yet to hear of any governor or political appointee saying his salary is higher than the one from another state. If the workers cannot collect the same salary all over, then the governors should stop collecting the same salary and we will resist any attempt to frustrate the minimum wage.”

Wabba said the issue of non-payment of salary in the states has nothing to do with lack of resources but the lack of proper planning by the governor and not putting their priorities right.

He wondered how governors would want to negotiate minimum wage for their states when political office holders in one state earn the same salaries and allowances with their counterparts in other states as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).