Fact Check

NLC rejects governors’ call to set state-specific wages, warns against industrial unrest

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has firmly rejected a proposal by state governors to allow each state to determine its own minimum wage for workers.

The NLC described the suggestion as dictatorial and counter to the fundamental principles of a national minimum wage.

In a statement issued by Mr. Benson Upah, NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, the congress warned state governors to refrain from making further inflammatory remarks about the minimum wage to avoid provoking industrial unrest. Upah emphasized that the NLC might not be able to contain the pressure for industrial action if the issue continues to be protracted.

The NLC called on President Bola Tinubu to stand by his promise of ensuring a living wage, which surpasses the concept of a minimum wage, and not to be swayed by what it termed unpatriotic governors.

The Southern Governors had recently suggested that states should negotiate their own wages based on individual capacities.

“The notion of allowing state governors to set their own minimum wages is not only dictatorial but undermines the essence of a national minimum wage,” Upah stated.

“The national minimum wage represents a wage floor below which no worker should be paid, ensuring a minimum standard of living. The governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage negates this principle and threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy.”

The NLC also highlighted the inconsistency in the governors’ arguments by pointing out that political officeholders across the nation receive uniform salaries as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission, without similar objections.

The congress criticized the double standards and called for equity and fairness in wage policies.

“We are deeply concerned by this blatant display of ignorance regarding global best practices for national minimum wages by some of these governors,” Upah continued.

“Despite their frequent travels abroad, they have chosen not to educate themselves on fundamental global issues crucial to successful governance. This level of self-imposed ignorance clearly illustrates why our nation is poorly governed, resulting in the unacceptable suffering of Nigerians.”

The NLC urged President Tinubu to resist any pressure from governors to undermine the national minimum wage and called on the federal government to take a firm stance on the issue.

The congress emphasized that the process of determining wages should remain a tripartite one, involving all stakeholders to ensure fairness.

“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,” Upah concluded.