New minimum wage: Labour, States on collision course as fresh battle looms

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Emmanuel Ugboaja, a labour leader, said on Wednesday that the governors would have no choice but to pay any amount signed into law as the new minimum wage.

Ugboaja, the Head of Department of International and Industrial Relation of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), spoke on a Channels Television programme while reacting to governors’ declaration that they may not be able to pay N30,000.

The Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee, submitted the report of the committee which recommended the figure to President Buhari on Tuesday.

According to Ugboaja, the issue of the national minimum wage would be an Act of Parliament and not Father Christmas gift from governors.

“Once it becomes a law, it becomes legally binding on employers in the formal sector and government to pay and the Act provides for how and when it is to be reviewed,’’ he said.

However, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkinde, Head, Media and Public Affairs of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, also on the programme, reiterated that the governors were not certain to pay N30,000 minimum wage if approved by the Presidency and signed into law by the National Assembly.

According to him, the governors are ready to shift ground from the initial N22,500 agreed to in their last meeting, but not a figure around N30,000 submitted to Buhari by the committee.
He said that the NGF would meet before the end of the month to deliberate on the issue and insisted that payment of any minimum wage was dependent on the resources available to each state.
“There is no how all the states will pay N30,000 because the tripartite committee says so.
“The governors have made it clear that they can deplore 50 per cent of their resources to payment of salaries, while the remaining 50 per cent will be committed to other areas,’’ he said.
The NGF spokesperson said that labour was making the governors look scandalous as people who were not interested in the welfare of Nigerians and this was not going to help their cause.

The different position of the duo on the matter was a sign that another round of face-off over implementation of the new minimum wage could be witnessed between states and organised labour.

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