- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 07:45
- Written by Punch
- Hits: 2274
Asked if the NLC would also make the country ungovernable if the state governor failed to implement the new minimum wage, the NLC President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, said, “Of course, that is our position. Our position is that labour made a formal demand of N52,000 minimum wage. Government set up a tripartite committee that lasted one year. After that, we agreed on N18,000 not because it was enough but because we thought we could also help in developing this economy.
“But if anybody is coming at this point to say it was predicated on any other thing, that is a new thing, and Nigerian workers will not allow it.
“Nigerian workers will go to any length to fight for their rights, especially on the issue of minimum wage.”
The TUC boss said the governors were playing with fire if they played politics with the new workers’ package.
About 25 governors under the aegis of Nigerian Governors’ Forum on Sunday met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, and appealed to him to facilitate the altering of the revenue sharing formula in favour of the states, a precondition for meeting the new wage regime.
Under the current revenue sharing formula amongst the three tiers of government, the Federal Government gets 52.68 per cent; states, 26.68 per cent; and local governments, 20.60 per cent.
The governors, our correspondent gathered, had complained that they would not be able to pay workers in their states the new minimum wage except they got more from the federal allocation.
But the unions dismissed such logic as ridiculous as the governors were part of the process that resulted in the new minimum wage played politics with its implementation.
The President General of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Peter Esele, who spoke on the issue in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Monday, described as unacceptable the reported decision of the governors to hinge their ability to pay the new wage on increased allocation from the Federation Account.
Esele said that it was unacceptable for the governors who had enough to money to pay more than 1,000 special advisers to resist the payment of the minimum wage
He said, “I think sincerely that the governors were part of the whole process that led to the agreement reached during the deliberations to pay a minimum wage of N18, 000.
“It is rather ridiculous for them to now say they are predicating the payment of the minimum wage on a new revenue allocation formula.
“Where are they getting the powers to have 1,000 advisers and where are they getting the money to make jobs available for the boys?
“Honestly, I think they are playing with fire. It is none of our business where they get the money to pay the minimum wage. They must pay, if not we will make this country ungovernable.”
Similarly, the General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. John Odah, said the governors had a responsibility to honour the agreement reached between labour and the government on the issue of minimum wage.
Odah argued that the N18,000 minimum wage before the National Assembly was a product of exhaustive deliberations between labour and the Federal Government team, which had due representation from the NGF.
He insisted that while the governors were right in seeking avenues for improved revenue allocation to their respective states, it would be inconceivable for them to go against the implementation of the minimum wage which some states had started paying.
Odah said the NLC expected the immediate passage of the bill on minimum wage into a law.
He maintained that while the governors expected the NLC to be law abiding, the union leaders were also of the view that the governors had a responsibility to set a good example by obeying the laws of the land.
He said, “We do not have any problems with the governors trying to get more allocation from the Federation Account for their people.
“We expect the minimum wage to become law very soon and all the governors being law abiding people must obey.
“The governors were part of the negotiation team of the Federal Government which eventually settled for the N18,000 minimum wage.
‘You will agree with me that labour reluctantly accepted the N18,000 having commenced the negotiation with N52,000. It is not possible for them to renege on the payment of the new wage.” he said
Others that expressed similarly views were the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities Mr. Promise Adewusi, and Secretary General of the TUC, Mr. John Kolawole.
He said that it would be condemnable for governors to attempt to tie the implementation of the minimum wage to “some extraneous gambit.”
He said that making increased revenue allocation as a condition for the payment of the minimum wage would a violation of the law on minimum wage when passed.
Adewusi who doubles as a Vice-President of the NLC, also said that refusal to obey the law of the minimum wage would definitely not protect the constitution.
He explained, “Governors, like other Nigerians have a right to seek to improve their lots and circumstances, however, it would be utterly illegal and unacceptable to tie the payment of the new minimum wage to some extraneous gambit.
“This will be contrary to the spirit and letters of the law when passed. It will indeed, negate the spirit of good governance and protection of the Nigerian constitution. The governors are welcome to form a trade union but they must play be the rule.”