New wage: NLC proposes sanctions for defaulting govs

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The Nigeria Labour Congress on Sunday gave a strong indication that it would press for the inclusion of a clause which would prescribe sanctions for governors and local government administrators who failed to implement the new minimum wage.

The National Treasurer of the NLC, Hakeem Ambali, who disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja,  said the refusal of state governors to pay the current minimum wage was a result of a lack of punitive measures in the Minimum Wage Act of 2019.

He said this as The PUNCH on Sunday learnt that the 37-member committee set up by the Federal Government would meet this week to debate reports submitted by various sub-committees from the six zones of the country.

President Bola Tinubu through his Vice-president, Kashim Shettima, had on January 30,2024 inaugurated the 37-member panel on the new minimum wages

With its membership cutting across federal, and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the panel is to recommend a new national minimum wage for the country.

Proposed sanctions

Ambali said, “When we look at the purchasing power in Nigeria, we can see a huge difference between 2019 and now. With the stoppage of the payment of the fuel subsidy, we can see an increase in the hardship of Nigerians.

“In the new minimum wage bill which will soon be signed into law by the President, we have put in some internal clauses to make it difficult for governors not to pay the new minimum wage. It is also good to know that some of the governors are also involved in the negotiation process.

“Labour itself has to be responsive. Once the National Minimum Wage Bill is signed into law juxtaposed with Labour’s responsiveness, we know they will pay. As you can see,0 even private companies have started increasing the salaries of workers and some of them are even paying wage awards for their workers.

“So in the bill, the clause involves sanctions and also talks about increased allocation to local governments so that nobody will have any excuse of not paying the approved rate.”

Meanwhile, the 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage appointed by the Federal Government will hold a meeting this week to debate proposals by stakeholders on the new minimum wage.

An executive bill is also expected to be sent to the National Assembly as a form of amendment to the current Minimum Wage Act.

The minimum wage to be unveiled is expected to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit.

During the public hearings, different zones suggested different amounts for minimum wage. The South-West zone suggested N794,000; the North -East proposed the sum of N560,000 as minimum wage; North- West proposed N485,000; The North-Central proposed N709,000; the South-South demanded N850,000 while the South -East demanded  N540,000.

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