Ngige clarifies govt stand on national minimum wage

Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment says the National Minimum wage of N27, 000 is standard for all workers, but the Federal Government will pay federal workers N30,000.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige

According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari constituted a Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage (TCNMW) in November 2017 to consider the issue and recommend a new national minimum wage.

He said the constitution of the committee was in consonance with the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Nos.26,99 and 131 as well as guidance provided by the accompanying recommendations.

In a bid to achieve a holistic coverage, the prescribed tripartite structure went beyond the requirements of tripartism to tripartite in order to cover other stakeholders which included Nigeria Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA).

It should be noted that the output from the TCNMW was therefore never meant to be sacrosanct, but to provide a guide for the Competent Authority (The Government) to make final decision.Ngige said.

He said the ILO Conventions on minimum wage stipulated that each member state shall be free to decide the nature and form of the minimum wage fixing machinery, and methods to be followed in its operations.

He said that ILO further provided that before government took the final decision on the matter, there should be full preliminary consultations with representatives of organizations of employers, which the government did with TCNMW.

The recommended new national minimum wage of twenty seven thousand naira (N27, 000) is for ALL categories of workers in Nigeria whether public or private sector and is so contained in the new national minimum wage Bill.

The national minimum wage is for workers occupying the lowest rung of the remuneration ladder on Grade Level 1 step 1 and are the most vulnerable segment of Nigerian workers.

It is of utmost importance to note that any public or private sector employer who is capable of paying more than the statutory N27, 000 should be ready to do so.

The Federal Government has taken the lead in this direction by proposing to augment the N27, 000 by N3,000 to bring it up to Thirty Thousand (N30,000) for the least paid worker per month.

Ngige said the Federal Government expected others in the public and private sectors to do the same, if the financial capacity permits, employers can pay more than thirty thousand naira (N30, 000).

He noted that the matter of the national minimum wage was in the Exclusive Legislative List as item No. 34 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said it is the Executive arm of Government that has the responsibility to prescribe a new national minimum wage and send to the National Assembly (NASS) for legislative action and lastly to the President for assent.

The minister therefore called on the different groups interested in the contents of the 2019 national minimum wage bill already transmitted to NASS to get ready to make their views known at the public hearing.

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