In the wake of the May day celebrations, the Presidency has promised that a new minimum wage regime is at hand and that the Buhari-led administration would make sure that they deliver on this promise to Nigerians.
These were the words spoken by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was present at the May day celebrations which held at Eagle Square in Abuja.
Representing President Buhari who was in the United States, Osinbajo told the teeming crowds that the government was sympathetic to their cause and is working ceaselessly to make sure that a new minimum wage regime is implemented.
He said; “It is my hope that the Tripartite Committee comprising government, labour, and the private sector, will expedite its assignment to enable the Federal Government to present an Executive Bill on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly for passage into law, as soon as possible.”
He added that the Federal Government would handle the issue of the minimum wage as opposed to the suggestion by some governors that the state be allowed to negotiate its own minimum wage regimes with workers.
Osinbajo said; “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 organised labour secured for its members almost four decades ago.”
He added “This administration has remained committed to improving the welfare of the Nigerian people. When we came into office at least 22 states were owing salaries, some for a whole year. If you recall in November 2015, the President said and I quote, ‘all my life I have always earned a salary, so I understand what it means when your salary is not paid or when it is not enough’.
“Just last year, Mr. President speaking to governors visiting him again went back to the issue of salaries, ‘I don’t know how any of you can go to sleep at night knowing that your workers have not been paid’. The President’s concern for workers is not a theoretical or rhetorical one , but one borne out of experience and respect for the sweat of the working classes.
“This is why we evolved mechanisms to bail out all the 36 states of the federation, to the tune of N1.91 trillion, in recognition of the shortfalls in their finances arising from the oil shocks of 2015/2016. We have extended this support regardless of party affiliation, to enable them settle the backlog of arrears of salaries and pensions of workers.
“At the inauguration of the National Economic Council in 2015, President Buhari publicly declared that our administration will extend support to every state, because poverty is no respecter of ethnic group, religion or party affiliation.
“While we do recognise that payment of salaries and pensions is essential; we are also conscious of the fact that the increasing cost of living and the recognition to ensure a fair and decent living wage has rendered the minimum wage Instrument obsolete. Accordingly, President Buhari inaugurated, on November 27, 2017, a Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee to renegotiate the National Minimum Wage for our workers”.