…Warns govs to pay salaries to avoid trouble
By Victor Young
Organised Labour has told the Salary, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) that the release of the circular and implementation table of the N30,000 new national minimum wage should not exceed this week as workers have exhausted their patience waiting for the new salary package.
This came as Labour called on the 9th National Assembly and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on governors to pay workers their salaries and pension to pensioners as and when due to avoid industrial unrest.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Thursday, April 18, assented to the Bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly on March 27, bringing to end the battle for a new national minimum wage that started in 2017 after Buhari inaugurated a tripartite committee sequel to the Organised Labour’s agitation that the N18,000 minimum wage, with five years lifespan, had elapsed since 2015.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, President of one of the public sector unions, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, called on the NSIWC to do the needful and issue the necessary circular and table of implementation to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government for immediate action.
He said the commission should, within this week, issue the implementation circular with a complying table to the MDAs and to states, based on the approval, for immediate implementation, insisting that there was no need for any more delay as the law stipulates immediate effect.
“Now that the President has signed the Bill into law with April 18 as take of date, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission should issue implementation circular and table based on the approval to the MDAs for implementation. The commission should send same circular and table to states” Anthony said.
“The states have right to adopt same as sent or renegotiate the table of implementation from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to suit their purpose especially if they want to pay more than the N30,000 baseline. But no state can pay less.
We expect the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to issue the circular next week (this week). If the process cannot be concluded before the preparation and payment of April salaries, it then means that arrears will be paid from May.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, while expressing its appreciation to Buhari for signing into law the new national minimum wage bill, through a statement by its General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, for immediate implementation of the law, “given the fact that this process has dragged on for nearly two years.”
It added: “In furtherance of this, we urge employers, particularly federal and state governments, to commence immediate negotiations with the appropriate unions on the impact of the new law on the wage structure with a view to timely and judicious implementation”.
Similarly, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, respectively, noted that while the Organised Labour appreciated the approval of the new wage, its gains had been eroded by inflation.
It lamented that prices of commodities had gone up even when employers had not commenced payment.
“The N30,000 monthly National Minimum Wage that we are even asking for to a family of six actually amounts to less than N50 per meal per person. It is exclusive of utility bills, school fees, etc”, the statement said.
“Given our extended family system as Africans we are also expected to once in awhile extend hands of fellowship to parents, in-laws, relations, friends who have lost their jobs, brothers and people of the same faith. We recall that some lawmakers promised to give the wage bill supersonic attention whenever it was brought before them and they have kept to their word. To us it means we still have men and women with milk of kindness left in them.
“We, therefore, call on the 9th Assembly and well meaning Nigerians to prevail on governors to pay workers their salaries and pension to pensioners as and when due to avoid industrial crisis.”