By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—LEADERS of the three labour centres in the country were, yesterday, united against moves by the National Assembly to remove minimum wage from exclusive to concurrent legislative list as the lawmakers step up efforts to amend the Constitution.
Leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, vowed to engage the National Assembly and, if possible, shut down Nigeria, should the lawmakers go ahead with the amendment.
Already, the joint committee on the Constitution Review is expected to meet with the consultants hired by the two chambers to harmonise their positions in a two-day retreat scheduled to hold in Abuja tomorrow.
Reacting, president of NLC, Comrade Ayuba, said: “All over the world, minimum wage is on the exclusive list, we are talking about protecting the most vulnerable group, that is the principle and philosophy.
On his part, President of ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said: “If the lawmakers remove the minimum wage from exclusive list, it will be a coup against Nigeria and Nigerian people. It will be sabotage against the Nigerian nation because we can as well say goodbye to the Nigerian federation.
“In order words, the states can as well have their own police, army and others. In fact, if the amendment passes through, there will be chains of reactions that would definitely threaten the Nigerian federation. I do not think the National Assembly and those behind the moves know the full implications.”
Similarly, President of TUC, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said: “We are against the move because it is a ploy by the state governments and other employers to pay peanuts to workers.
“Probably, the member of the House of Representatives who is sponsoring the bill does not know the concept of minimum wage.
“Minimum wage is a baseline, or minimum standard to guide employers whether private or public on what to pay. “
We are even taking about removing a clause which says the minimum wage should be applicable to employers with 50 workers and above.
‘’Those employers staff strength of below 50 have been taking advantage of it to pay slave wage. So, we should be talking about amending the law to include every employer, whether employing one person or above.
‘’We believe the member of the House responsible for the amendment is not a Nigeria and must be a very wicked person. We think his constituency should recall him because he is not representing his electorate but governors and employers
Constitution amendment committee meets Friday
Vanguard reliably gathered that the joint Committee on Constitution Review is expected to meet tomorrow in Abuja, for a two-day retreat to harmonise the positions of the two chambers.
It was gathered that the consultants working for the two committees had met and taken a common position and would then present the alterations so far made to members of Senate Committee on Constitution Review, led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and that of the House of Representatives, led by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun.
The two committees are expected to harmonise their positions before the alterations made could be sent to various constituencies for either adoption or rejection.