The mandatory N30,000 Minimum Wage has remained a bone of contention between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and some state governor’s who have been battling with the payment. Some governors have found it difficult to agree with the terms, claiming their states are not bouyant enough to pay the N30,000.
NLC has called on all state governors to begin the processes of implementing the new Minimum Wage of N30,000 at the state level without any excuses or delay.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who noted that state governments have the capacity to pay the N30,000 which he lamented was not even enough to cater for a family, warned that Congress would do everything possible to protect workers in the country.
Speaking at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the Implementation of the new minimum wage at the state level, Wabba noted that some states have already implemented and were paying the new wage, others were still discussing implementation modalities and some others were yet to start any process.
He said: “Having completed that process at the national level, we have set the pace also for the states to cue in, but I must appreciate the fact that some states, even without waiting for this, have gone ahead to do something because nothing stops them to wait until this process is completed; they have the wherewithal to actually drive the process.
“I also remember that most of them gave excuse that they were waiting for the national to be completed because they thought it will not be completed. Many of them even at the governors’ forum they said they were waiting for the national to set the pace. Now that the national has set the pace, I don’t think there is any room again for any excuse or for any delay because the fact of it is that workers are really at the receiving end.
“To buy a bag of rice today, even the local rice, you must part with between N20,000 and N22,000. If you buy rice with N22,000 out of N30,000 what is remaining to pay school fees, pay house rent and offset other bills? The reality of the fact is that certainly this is just a manageable situation and we have to reach a compromise with our other social partners.
“We have done all that is expected of us and what is remaining is to know at what stage of discussion is the states and, like I said, there is no excuse. A lot of other economic factors are also cropping in. We just heard they wanted to increase VAT from 5 to 7.5%. This will affect every good and service and, by extension, affect every Nigerian.”
Wabba, who raised concerns over the huge salary gap between political officer holders and workers and the governors’ stand on lean resources as inability to pay workers due to high number of workers, said there was need to take stock as most workers have retired and states have not been employing to fill up the gap.
“They say workers are many, but we know that in many states, employment have not taken place whereas many workers have retired. I was in my state recently, in an office where you used to have 20 to 30 people, if you are lucky, you will find only three or four people. This is the reality, we must have data on our fingertips; we must do everything possible to protect the poor workers.
“When the minimum wage was increased to N18,000, political office holders earnings was increased by 800 per cent by Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission. Today, all political office holders collect the same salary from councillor to the highest office, yet in our own case, they will come and say ability to pay.
“If it is ability to pay, can’t they apply inability to pay when it comes to payment of governors? Where is the rationale, where is the human nature that is in us, where is the justice, where is the truth? A state that is receiving small amount of money from the federation account; if you look at what the political office holders is earning, it’s the same with Lagos State that is very buoyant.
“All of us working class must continue to see ourselves as one. We are going to take stock from state to state before we take a decision,” he added.