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You cannot determine our minimum wage, Nigerian workers tell governors

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has declared that the Governors cannot determine the fate of Nigerians workers in regards minimum wage, describing the Governor’s move as divisive and capable of deepening poverty in the country.

Penpushing reports that Head of Information and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Benson Upah made the declaration in a statement, noting that the notion was dictatorial and undermined the essence and model of creating a national minimum wage in Nigeria.

The union in the statement titled, ‘Governors cannot dictate what to pay!’, however, urged President Bola Tinubu, who had promised the workers a living wage, not to allow himself to be blackmailed or boxed into a corner by the governors, described as unpatriotic

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Penpushing further reports that Upah pointed out that the concept of a national minimum wage was not arbitrary, as it represented a national wage floor, a baseline below which no worker should be paid, adding that the threshold was a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker by law.

The Head of Information and Public Affairs noted that the Governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage in their respective states negates the principle of a minimum wage and threatens the welfare of workers as well as the national economy.

Penpushing also reports that Upah stated that the stance of many Governors to determine their state’s minimum wage would deepen poverty and cause varying dimensions of insecurity, contending that the fate of Nigerian workers could not be left solely in the hands of employers, whether public or private.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) spokesperson in the statement observed that what the Governors were asking for was akin to allowing numerous companies and organisations in Nigeria to pay workers whatever they like.

Penpushing reports that he emphasized that while these companies may not pay the same salaries, they must adhere to the national wage floor, and the same should apply to state Governors, and urged the federal government to stop dithering on the issue of the national minimum wage.

The union in same vein, urged the Governors to abandon any inclination toward dictatorial practices as the process of fixing a minimum wage remains a tripartite one involving the government, workers and private employers, and called for policies and actions driven by equity and fairness.

“Ensuring a fair minimum wage is not only a matter of economic justice but also a fundamental aspect of maintaining social stability and national cohesion. Nigerian workers should not be reduced to beggars’, Upah said.

“It is unfortunate that workers’ salaries are often seen as charity rather than the hard-earned income of hardworking Nigerians. It is equally painful that some of these governors fail to realise that workers’ salaries substantially drive the economy. Not surprisingly, they prioritise their greed over the needs of ordinary citizens’, he wrote.

“We are deeply concerned by this blatant display of ignorance regarding the global best practices for a national minimum wage by some of these Governors. It is evident that despite their frequent travels abroad, they have deliberately chosen not to educate themselves on fundamental global issues crucial to successful governance. This level of self-imposed ignorance on basic industrial relations matters illustrates why our nation is poorly governed, resulting in the unacceptable suffering of Nigerians,” he said.

Penpushing further reports that it is recalled that Nigerian Governors Forum from the southern part of Nigeria, called for the consideration of the cost of living and ability of each state to pay in reaching an agreement on the new minimum wage.

The Southern Governors in a communique issued at the end of their recent meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital advocated that each state be allowed to negotiate the new wage with the labour unions.

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