Labour: We will resist any cut in wages
Avoid delay, present minimum wage bill Tuesday, Senate advises president
Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Inaugurating the Technical Advisory Committee on National Minimum Wage wednesday, President Muha-mmadu Buhari put smiles on the faces of workers, stating that wage increase had become inevitable and non-negotiable.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage,” Buhari told the advisors at the State House, Abuja.
But he might, however, have raised the red flag when he hinted at a review of the pay of federal government workers whose packages are already above the N30,000 new minimum pay being insisted upon by organised labour.
Labour’s response to the hint was swift wednesday: it would be resisted.
The president spoke in measured tones as he said although the reality was that workers’ pay would have to move up, those who had crossed the new bar would have understand the federal government’s call for a review of the excess in view of its dwindling purse.
According to him, even though the minimum wage is on exclusive legislative list, state governors are being carried along because of the current prevalent economic challenges.
He said since the provisions for the payment of the new minimum wage had already been made in the 2019 budget, funding the increase would not be difficult.
However, the president said the new minimum wage would not be automatic for every federal government worker, pointing out that instead, salaries of civil servants already earning above the national minimum wage would be reviewed.
Those expected to be affected by this review are the staff of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others, who earn humongous salaries.
Buhari told the committee members, “It is important to explain that even though the subject of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List, we have been meeting with the state governors because it is imperative that the federal government carries the state governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.
“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know we, at the federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the minimum wage in our 2019 budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly.
“Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.
“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law, we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is, therefore, important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands.”
The president added that the national minimum wage must be done in a way that it will have no adverse effects on the targets set by the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
According to him, it was against that background that the constitution of a technical committee to advise the government about the funding of additional wage bill ahead of implementation had become imperative.
The committee’s terms of reference as listed by Buhari are:
“To develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases;
“Identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan;
“Propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases;
“Any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.”
The president said given the urgency of the national minimum wage matter, the committee has one month to conclude its assignment and submit its recommendations.
The committee is chaired by notable economist, Mr. Bismarck Rewane.