The Nigeria Labour Congress on Sunday advised governors to begin payment of the new N18,000 minimum wage to avert industrial actions in their states.
A statement by the NLC Vice-President, Mr. Issa Aremu, reminded the governors that they did not need a new revenue allocation formula to be able to pay the new wage.
The statement, which was made available to journalists was the labour union’s response to a comment by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, that without a new revenue formula, governors would not be able to pay the N18,000 minimum wage.
But the congress flayed the governors’ stance on the issue, saying that the demand for a new revenue sharing formula by the governor would necessitate a fresh call for a minimum salary higher than the N18,000 wage.
The statement reads, “The new legal minimum wage of N18,000 of 2011 is based on the current revenue allocation formula, the capacity of the economy, the ability of both the private and public employers to pay as well as modest working (not necessarily living) conditions of a minimum wage earner.
“And the earlier the governors and private employers and Federal Government pay, the better to avoid industrial actions by workers and the burden of arrears that accompany avoidable and criminal delays.
“The Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, got it completely wrong when he said the state governors were not in a position to immediately implement the 18,000 minimum wage unless there is a new revenue allocation formula.
“If there is a new revenue allocation formula tomorrow, there is bound to be a new minimum wage higher than the current N18,000.
“The point cannot be overstated; the new N18,000 minimum wage is a product of painstaking two-year negotiation and consultation by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.
“Critical stakeholders that negotiated the new rate included State Governments, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Organised Private Sector, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as informed opinions drawn from key institutions and professional bodies like Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Institute of Social and Economic Research, the National Productivity Centre, National Planning Commission, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (as well as Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.
“All inclusive negotiation committee negotiated and arrived at an upward review of national minimum wage from N5,000 and N7,500 (state and Federal levels respectively) to N18,000, a compromised rate from the N52,200 demanded for by the NLC for a Nigerian minimum earner.
“The N18,000 minimum wage is dependent on the current revenue allocation formula among other economic and social fundamental macro factors like the oil revenue, cost of working and living, non –oil sector performance, labour productivity and general level of poverty.”
Labour advised the governors to note that the minimum wage was “the lowest legally permissible level of wage payable to workers in the specified period by their employers (federal and state governments inclusive) for their social satisfaction and the need of their families.”
The NLC added that the new wage was “the minimum social floor below which no worker should fall” in a country with trillion of naira budgets in the past decades.
It said that a country with “lorry loads of rhetoric about poverty alleviation” should “feel ashamed debating payment of legally permissible pay of N18,000 (less than $200) to its workers.”
The statement added, “As far back as 1982, Nigerian workers earned as much as $200 per month, which means that with all the huge revenues accruable to all tiers of governments, Nigerian workers are still poorer than they were three decades ago.