The Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Isa Aremu on Friday disclosed that it took the congress effectively two years to agitate and negotiate for the review of the old minimum wage.
The Labour chief, who was speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, also went memory lane to give a historical review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria.
“The first minimum wage we had in this country was in 1981, under President Shehu Shagari, 2nd Repiblic, that’s N125. In 1992 we reviewed it, that’s under the military to N250 and by the time we got to 2000 that is the return to democracy, it was also reviewed to N5, 500 under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the President of the NLC” noting that “now, ten years after we thought we should review it and it took us two years” he said.
He went further to list the processes involved in the review of the minimum wage as an “all inclusive thing”.
He said “we had deliberation for two years. That became an Executive Bill taken to the National Assembly” noting that “the same very assembly passed the law”.
He commended Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole for utilizing his privileges to join in the negotiations while his colleagues shied away. He also called on governors who, after the Bill had become law, said they “couldn’t pay, to go back to the process of collective bargaining”.
He also called on the federal government to put in place a robust mechanism in enforcing other labour issues, “safety standards for instance, occupational health and safety” revealing that “today you have a law, Factory Act” which stipulates that “before you set up an enterprise, you must have certain safety routes. You must have escape routes, you must be able to have fire extinguisher “.
He added that the laws should not be restricted to state and public establishments but to be extended to the private sector, failing which they should be closed as punishment.