By Funmi Komolafe
After about 18 monthsÂ of a struggle for a new national minimum wage, organised labour has got the nod of other social partners; government and private sector employers represented by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association ( NECA) for a review of the national minimum wage from N5,500 in 2000 to N18,000.
Although, President Olusegun Obasanjo and the unions agreed to a minimum pay of N7,500 for employees of the federal government, in 2000, legally the national minimum wage was N5, 500 .00 per month.
The new national minimum wage of N18,000 per monthÂ is an increase of 227% of the 2000 NMW.
The last negotiation exercise under the chairmanship of Justice Alfa Belgore initially agreed on N22,000.00 per month. Authoritative sources at the meeting confirmed to us that â€œwe hadÂ a downward review so that many employers including state governments would be able to payâ€.
However, the new wage is not enforceable untilÂ the legislative arm of government ammends the National Minimum Wage Act 2000,
Before the commencement of this negotiation, a member of the House of Representative had proposed N30,000 as the national minimum wage but it was stepped down because it did not follow the due process of collective bargaining. The Nigeria Labour Congress which initiated the demand for a new national minimum wage demanded N52, 200 but it was clear that this was for the purpose of negotiation.
NLCâ€™s demand was officially made public during its national executive council meeting held in Kano on December 18, 2008 at Mambbiya house, Kano. If the NLC had asked for an amount below that, probably,Â Alfa Belgore committee would have recommended N10,000.00.
NLC urges legislature, executive to speed up the process
As expected, the Nigeria Labour Congress discussed the issue at its national executive council meeting held in Akure, Ondo state.Â â€œNECÂ noted that Nigerian workers have exhibited sufficient patience since it began and concluded the campaign for the implementation of a decent wage over a year ago. It has become imperative in the face of current biting economic situation which has made nonsense of the existing wages of workers, that Nigerian workers receive the new national minimum wage without further delayâ€.
The NLC resolved, â€œ that the Executive arm of Government should be communicated to fast track the submission and passage of an amendment to the 2000 National Minimum Wage Act to give effect to the consensus reached by the tripartite minimum wage negotiating committee.
NEC resolved that all processes needed for bringing about the new national minimum wage legislation must be completed within two months, after which the Congress will not be in a position to guarantee industrial peace without this issue being fully resolvedâ€.