L-R: VP Osinbajo with President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama; President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, MNI; Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator (Dr) Chris Ngige.

Minimum Wage: Osinbajo Urges Tripartite Committee To Expedite Action

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the Tripartite Committee on the

National Minimum Wage to expedite its assignment on workers’ new

minimum wage in the country.

Speaking at the May Day celebration with the theme,“Labour Movement in National Development: Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win’’, in Abuja on Tuesday Osinbajo said:

“There is a conscious fact of increasing cost of living and the

recognition to ensure a fair and decent living wage has rendered the

Minimum Wage Instrument obsolete.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari on November 27, 2017, inaugurated a

Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee to renegotiate the National

Minimum Wage for our workers..

“It is my hope, therefore, that the Tripartite Committee comprising

government, labour, and the private sector will expedite its

assignment.

“This will enable the Federal Government to present an Executive Bill

on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly as soon as

possible,” he said.

He added that the argument for a national minimum wage, therefore,

could not be faulted because minimum wage was the minimum amount of

compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her

labour.

The Vice President noted that the minimum wage should be anchored on

the principles of social justice, equity, and fairness.

“As you are all aware, the subject of a National Minimum Wage for the

Federation is within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Although, there are arguments regarding fixing minimum wage in a

federation such as ours,

“It is the responsibility of the government to establish the necessary

social protection floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability

of each tier of government to pay.

“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 also said that Mr President’s concern for workers was not a

theoretical or rhetorical one, but one borne out of experience and

respect for the sweat of the working classes.

According to him, this is why we evolved mechanisms to bail out all

the 36 states of the federation with 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 to 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.

“This is because poverty is no respecter of ethnic group, religion or

party affiliation. While we do recognise that payment of salaries and

pensions is essential,” he said.

Osinbajo also gave assurance that the Federal and state governments

would continue to work together to improve the conditions of workers

across the country.

He, therefore, commended the Nigerian organized labour for their

contributions toward helping Nigeria get out, in record time, of

economic recession arising from past economic mismanagement.

He reiterated the present administration’s commitment to the unity of

the Nigerian organised labour to serve as a bulwark against divisive

forces, internally and externally.

“I advise that the Nigerian labour movement, and any group for that

matter, to always employ its leadership skills of conflict resolution

and utilise the internal mechanism to resolve conflicts.

Factionalisation is not the answer.

“I must at this point appreciate the Nigerian labour movement for

being a strong pillar of support for our anti-corruption agenda.

“The government recognises the fact that indeed the first line real

victims of corruption are the Nigerian workers and working families,

along with the rural poor.

“It is regrettable that despite the enormous revenues Nigeria earned

from oil in recent past, we still have problems with payment of

salaries and pensions of workers due to mismanagement and corruption.

“I assure you that under our administration, we will ensure that we

expend every kobo of public funds towards securing the welfare of all

Nigerians,” he added.

He commended the Nigerian workers for their continued patience and

sacrifices toward moving the nation forward.

Osinbajo added that Nigerian workers were by any estimation the most

patriotic segments of the population.

According to him, workers are amongst the most committed taxpayers

because your taxes are deducted at the source.

“Hence, nobody can deny you the right to interrogate government and

how public funds are expended at all times,” Osinbajo said.