President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba has said that no state in Nigeria has any excuse not to pay the new minimum wage to workers.
He said, “There is no excuse for any state not to pay (the minimum wage). Eighty-five per cent of the VAT increase goes to the state.
“Therefore, they don’t have any excuse not to pay workers the minimum wage, a minimum wage that will be negotiated not a minimum wage that will be a peanut that cannot even take a worker home.”
Wabba spoke during a meeting with members of the National Administrative Council (NAC) in Abuja yesterday.
He said going by Monday’s appraisal by, 20 states are yet to conclude talks on the implementation of minimum wage and the consequential adjustment for officer.
The Labour leader said 16 states have completed negotiations on the adjustments and started paying the minimum wage to workers on Grade Level 1-7.
He listed the states as Lagos, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Jigawa, Yobe, Katsina, Ondo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna, Bayelsa, FCT, Anambra and Akwa – Ibom.
Wabba said that while seventeen states were on the negotiating table, Taraba State government was yet to set up a committee to begin dialogue with labour leaders in the state.
Calling on the government to inaugurate a committee in order to commence dialogue, Wabba said: “We have been able to make some progress. As I speak to you today from the initial six states that we mentioned in the last press conference, today we have 16 that have signed and commenced (payment).
“We have about three that have reached agreement but have not signed. We have about seventeen that negotiation is ongoing. I can say authoritatively that it is only in Taraba that nothing has started.
“The committee has not been inaugurated, the process of dialogue has not commenced and therefore, I want to use this medium to call on the Taraba state government to quickly respect the provision of the minimum wage Act.”
Insisting that no state has an excuse not to pay the minimum wage since it had become a law, the unionist said: “The minimum wage Act is already a law and every political office holder must respect the sanctity of our constitution and also the sanctity of the oath of office they have sworn to uphold.
“If a worker is entitled to be paid his wages, the wages must be commensurate to what have been negotiated. Minimum wage implementation is observed in 90 per cent of the countries of the world and we cannot be an exception.
He berated the River State government for sealing off the state secretariat of the NLC.
“We condemn in very strong term the undemocratic action of the Rivers state government who went in the night to seal off NLC Rivers State secretariat under the laughable pretense of structural integrity. It is a shame.
“It is a clear violation of the International Labour Organisation Convention of 87, 98 and the labour Act which retrain public authorities from taking such action.
“We demand immediate opening of the office and respect for workers’ rights.”
Report by Osbert Tor-najime