President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated a 30-manTripartite National Minimum Wage Committee, calling on the members to come up with a fair and decent wage for Nigerian workers.
Inaugurating the committee in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Buhari said that re-negotiation of a new national minimum wage had become imperative because the existing minimum wage instrument had since expired.
“We all know that the last minimum wage instrument has expired."
“It is in recognition of the need to ensure a fair and decent living wage that the Federal Government put in motion necessary mechanisms so that we can today inaugurate this large committee with a big task ahead of you."
“You are all aware that during the period following the increase in petrol pump price in May 2016, a technical committee was established to examine and make recommendations to government, the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large."
“During the deliberations of the technical committee, which comprised government and organized labour, the need for the review of the national minimum wage was highlighted and recommendation to set up a committee to look into the level of minimum wage was made accordingly,’’ Buhari said.
The president noted that the subject of a national minimum wage for the federation was within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution.
He, therefore, enjoined the committee members to “go above the basic social protection floor for all Nigerian workers, based on the ability of each tier of government to pay."
“I say this because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and as such should be anchored on social justice and equity.’’
Buhari also told the members to amicably consider the issue of a national minimum wage and all matters ancillary to it with thoroughness and concern, not only for the welfare of the nation’s workforce but the likely effects on the country’s economy.
He expressed his optimism that the outcome of the deliberations of the committee would be consensual and generally acceptable.
According to him, government’s decision after considering the final recommendation will be sent as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for it to undergo appropriate legislative scrutiny before passage into law.
“As is evident by the membership of the committee, state governors and private sector employers are part of this process."
“This will ensure ease of implementation of a new minimum wage nationwide.’’
The president also expressed hope that the principles of full consultation with social partners and their direct participation would be utilised by the committee, bearing in mind the core provisions of the International Labour Organisation’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No. 26.
“Accordingly, conditions of genuine social dialogue should prevail in the spirit of tripartism and collective bargaining agreements.’’
Buhari further told the committee members “to collectively bargain in good faith, have mutual recognition for each other and always in a spirit of give and take.’’
According to him, the committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations as soon as possible to enable other requisite machinery to be set in motion for the implementation of a new national minimum wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, lauded the president for inaugurating the committee, expressing hope that the committee would perform its duties diligently.
The committee has a former Head of Service and Minister of Housing, Ms. Ama Pepple as Chairman, while Ngige is to serve as Deputy Chairman.
The Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Mr Richard Egbule, is to serve as the secretary of the committee.