May Day: Workers Demand For Minimum Wage Increase Legitimate, Says NLC
The Nigeria Labour Congress has defended the demand by workers for the increase of the minimum wage, saying it is modest and backed by law.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said this in an exclusive interview with Channels Television to mark the May Day celebrations.
He said, “By law and practice, and through a collective bargaining process, government, employers of labour and organised labour as represented by TUC and NLC, have agreed that in every five years, we need to review the minimum wage because of a lot of factors – the cost of living, inflation and other factors that need to be considered.
“Therefore, it is due both by law and in practice. And it is a legitimate demand.”
Wabba explained that it was because the demand was legitimate that all parties have not rejected it or called it frivolous.
“And that was why the tripartite team was constituted and now the negotiating team will be constituted,” he added.
The NLC president explained further that the demand was meant to take into consideration the impact of inflation on the current minimum wage.
He said, “In fact, we are being very modest; we are trying to bring back the value of N18,000. At the time we signed the N18,000 minimum wage, which was (through) a tripartite process, the value was about $110.
“Today, what is the value of N18,000? It’s less than $40. This is the reality – inflation has actually taken (away) the impact and import of the increase.
“What we are merely doing, which I think is very modest and needs to be commended, is the fact that we are trying to bring back the value of N18,000. This is realistic.”
Wabba also faulted concerns about the ability of government to pay the minimum wage, stressing that the political elites did not complain about the ability to pay when they increased their salaries.
“Don’t forget, when we demanded N18,000, our political elites increased their salaries and earnings, across board – from councilor to the highest office in the land – by over 800 per cent. Nobody is talking about their ability to pay, they are being paid now,” he said.
He added that claims that organised labour was demanding that salaries across board should be equal was not accurate.
“We are saying that the minimum below which no employer of labour – both government and private – should pay should be the minimum wage. So, let us not confuse the issue of the minimum wage with the entire package,” the NLC president said.
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