The Vice President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Isa Aremu, on Thursday informed the Senate that it had lost the confidence of Nigerian workers following its decision to move minimum wages issues from exclusive list to concurrent list.
“This ammendment by the Senate is done in bad faith, is an abuse of trust and the Senate has to do as much as possible to regain the confidence of Nigerians and Nigerian workers in particular,” Aremu said, while on Sunrise Daily.
The issue which had been debated for about a year had prompted the Congress to protest on September 19th, 2013 and according to Aremu, “the House of Reps understood the need to retain labour issues including minimum wage on the exclusive list of the constitution; But it was the Senate that was trying to push labour push to the concurrent list.”
He further recalled that Senate President David Mark had at the time assured the Congress that it was “better informed about labour position” which was that “labour issues should be retained on the exclusive list of our constitution, just as it has been since 1963 down to 1979, for obvious reasons”.
He noted that “labour is a factor of production and if you want to motivate labour for development, you must give them certain minimum environment to operate”, insisting that “minimum wage, minimum hours of work, minimum safety conditions in the work place regardless of whether workers are from private sector or public sector, or State or Federal”.
He emphasised that the Congress was insisting on a minimum wage system because “some employers will pay miserable pay” if such was not in place.
“If you don’t have minimum wage in place, some employers, especially private sector (here we are talking of some Asian employers)- they will pay graduates, whether they are polytechnic or university graduates – N5,000.
“I think the whole idea is you must have minimum floor below which no worker will earn and the same thing applies for minimum hours of work.”
He highlighted that such was the tradition in several countries signed to ILO conventions
Aremu also claimed that governors who were pressurizing the lawmakers were self-serving and ill-informed.
“These governors who don’t want to pay 18,000 minimum wage, they are the ones using private jets. They even have private terminals now, for themselves.
“Also, the same governors have minimum pay for themselves” he said, noting that the same applied to senators.
“There’s a minimum pay for all of them so why do you want to apply this double standard to the working people. I think it’s ill-informed. It’s an abuse of trust and I hope the Senate will be able to reverse its position”.