There is a new hope for raising the minimum wage as employers have expressed their willingness to pay higher minimum wages whenever the law is set.
The national umbrella body of the employers stated this during the ongoing 107 International Labour Conference in Nigeria. The Director of General of the Nigeria Employers Consultive Association (NECA) agreed that the current minimum wage is inadequate.
18,000 Naira per month is the current minimum wage, which converts to about 50 US dollars.
“Employers are believers in the rule of law and they have been involved in setting threshold of minimum wage in Nigeria. The fact that we are on the table for negotiation is indicative of the fact that we are ready for the outcome.”If at sectoral level, we have been faithful to the approach, then the country can count on us to be faithful to the outcome of the discussion on a new national minimum wage,” the director told the Guardian.
Oshinowo, by contrast, said that efforts should be geared towards negotiating a new minimum that workers will be happy with. The director of NECA observed that all the stakeholders must show commitment to the process that will ensure the minimum wage gets changed soon. President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said that if all the tripartite members are committed than the changing it in September is possible.
“From the beginning we set a timeline on when to conclude negotiations and deliver a comprehensive report. Giving the commitment we have received from the National Assembly, I don’t think that the lawmakers will delay the bill once it gets to them. Both the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) are committed to the August/September timeline. The one that was done in 2011 was actualised within one month,” he said.
What comes next is the Federal Executive Council and the National Economic council must now examine the recommendations and then forward it to the National Assembly for legislative process in order for it to become law. Then it will have to be assented to by the president.
The Minister of Labour and Employment does not see this coming to fruition by the end of September but believes that it could be done by the end of the year.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has previously promised last month that the change will be expedited and a new minimum wage will be ready by the second quarter of the year.
“The argument for a national minimum wage cannot be faulted, 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 the principles of social justice, equity, and fairness. We believe that those who can pay above the social protection floor are free to do so, as many have been doing in many states and sectors of the economy,” he said.
During this time the NLC president said that pension for retired workers should also be raised and called for employers to pay it once the change is made. Now they have agreed they will.
“We have also proposed that the minimum wage law should apply to all workers and not be restricted only to establishments with 50 workers and above. We have also demanded that there should be minimum pension for our retired workers and senior citizens who currently, in some cases, are receiving N2000 as monthly pension. We insist that once the Minimum Wage Act is signed into law, all employers in public and private sectors must pay at once. We shall stand with those willing to pay more than the minimum. We shall resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level,” he said.
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