By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja: The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the federal government’s commitment to improving the living wages of the Nigerian workers, especially in regards to increment of the minimum wage.
The Vice President, speaking on Tuesday, at the 2018 National May Day Celebration in Abuja, expressed hopes, that the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee, renegotiating the wage for workers, comprising government, labour, and the private sector, will expedite its assignment to enable the Federal Government present an Executive Bill on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly for passage into law, as soon as possible.
He stated therefore, that the Federal Government and the state governments in the mean time, will continue to work together to improve the conditions of workers across the country.
According to him, “Although there are arguments regarding fixing minimum wage in a federation such as ours, it is the responsibility of government to establish the necessary social protection floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of Government to pay.
“The argument for a national minimum wage, therefore, 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. This administration has no intention of presiding over the dismantling of the gains organized labour secured for its members almost four decades ago” he said.
He advised the Nigerian labour movement, and other groups to always employ its leadership skills of conflict resolution and utilize the internal mechanism to resolve conflicts, adding that factionalization is not the answer.
In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, called on the leadership of Labour movement, to constructively engage the government through social dialogue which is considered a veritable instrument of negotiation and communication in any sound National Industrial relation system.
Ngige further urged workers to always imbibe the culture of communication and uphold the principle of the use of strike as the last resort in the pursuit of socio-economic goals and aspirations.
“Let us endeavour to conserve our mandays productively” he said.
Furthermore, the Minister advised the Labour movement to join the government in its fight against corruption and ancillary matters, adding that corruption is a surmountable obstacle that requires patriotic approach and remedy.
“Labour should at this time help to bake the National cake” he ended.
On his part, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC),Comrade Ayuba Wabba noted that from the first Minimum Wage of N125 which was equivalent to $200 in 1981 to the current Minimum Wage of N18, 000, Nigerian workers have always been forced to bargain so hard, wait for too long and at the end made to endure very little returns that tend to mock their input to national development.
He stressed that, this year’s May Day address seeks to inspire strength in every Nigerian worker and pensioner, that the only path to victory over the forces of oppression and slavery, is to rise above the odds and dare to struggle!
“Our current demand of N66, 500 as the national minimum wage will only manage to meet the basic needs of the average Nigerian worker if inflation is kept at a single digit
“We shall stand with those willing to pay more than the minimum wage and we shall resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level” he emphasized.