The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked for an upward review of the current National Minimum Wage from N18 000 to N56 000.
He said the need for upward review of the current minimum wage became necessary, considering the economy challenges which affect the purchasing power of Nigerians.
"I can say authoritatively that as at yesterday, we have made a formal demand of N56, 000 minimum wages to government. That demand has been submitted officially to the federal government."
"We hope for the tripartite system to look at the review that will be put in place. Our argument is that, yes it’s true that the economy is not doing well, but the law is also clear that this issue must be looked into. And workers should not be seen to be sleeping on their rights," Waba said.
"These are processes, but when we come to the round table, we can then see the best way out. But I think it is obvious that since it is a product of law, it is usually required that the tripartite process be put in place so that together we can look at the issues".
"It is obvious that the workers have not fared well in the last one year, but we will not continue to lament. What we will do is to work out a process of engagement on how those issues can be addressed," he said.
On whether the state can pay the new minimum wage, Comrade Wabba said "The logic is to ensure that no worker earns below what can be able to sustain him for a period of thirty days.”
The NLC boss disclose that, when the N18,000 minimum wage was negotiated, the value in terms of exchange rate was almost at 110 naira to a dollar, adding that today, it has been reduced to virtually nothing.
"It’s also about law, the law envisage that within a circle of five years, the issue of inflation will be there, the issue of purchasing power reduction will be there. Mind you, this challenges we are passing in our economy, we don't expect it to be forever. It is something that is transient."
"Economies will always go up and down. We are passing through a very turbulent time. The issue of minimum wage is not essentially for now; it’s an issue we must take on board if we want to address the issue of corruption. Without taking proper care of the worker, it is very difficult. That is why I said it’s a process and we are going to dialogue around that process. That is why collective bargaining is important," the labour leader added.
According to Comrade Wabba, President Barrack Obama of the United State of America has increased the US minimum wage in 2008 to 2009 when the US economy was in recession.
"If manufacturers are producing and nobody is buying, the economy will be at a standstill because people don't have the purchasing power. And that is the situation we are in now. It’s an argument," Waba added.