You can’t dictate what minimum wage to pay – NLC replies govs

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THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has criticized governors’ statements suggesting that states should determine their own minimum wage, calling the idea dictatorial and contrary to the national minimum wage framework in the country.

The NLC expressed concerns that this approach undermines the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy.

The union emphasized that the concept of a national minimum wage is essential to ensure a baseline standard of living for all workers and that allowing states to unilaterally set their minimum wage could jeopardize this principle.

The NLC pointed out the disparity in pay structures among states and criticized governors and political officeholders for their lavish lifestyles.

“The Forum discussed the minimum wage issues demanded by labour and unanimously agreed that the minimum wage should be reflective of the cost of living and ability to pay, and each State be allowed to negotiate their minimum wage,” the governors said in a communique.

But the NLC has faulted the governors’ move, saying it “threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy”.

“The concept of a national minimum wage is not arbitrary. It represents a national wage floor, a baseline below which no worker in the law should be paid. This threshold is a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker in the law. The governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage negates this principle and threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy,” the union said.

“It is important to remind the governors that the national minimum wage is not synonymous with the individual pay structures of the states which they implement religiously, reflecting their unique financial capabilities and circumstances. This diversity in pay structures underscores the flexibility that already exists within the system, allowing states to reward their workers in alignment with their financial realities.”

The NLC berated governors and political officeholders for their extravagant lifestyles.

“Why is there no hue and cry when political office holders across the nation receive uniform salaries as determined by Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission?” the statement asked.

“This double standard which piths a few privileged against the majority poor is an issue that should be of concern to those who love this country.

The ongoing negotiations for a new minimum wage have been complex, with disagreements between labour unions, the government, and the private sector.

While the tripartite committee proposed N62,000 as the new minimum wage, organised labour has pushed for N265,000.

The organised private sector under the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) had warned against paying a minimum wage higher than N62,000. That was after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) stepped down a memo on the minimum wage for more consultations.

“Now, if it goes above N62,000, you have created two or three different dynamics. One, you have set the tone for non-compliance.

“That is one. Because if I cannot pay, I just can’t pay. Now, you have created a problem for the judiciary. All employees who are not satisfied, have the right, according to the Act, to go to the National Industrial Court,” NECA’s director-general Adewale Oyerinde said.