Tinubu set to announce new minimum wage

Indications have emerged that President Bola Tinubu may announce the new minimum wage on May 1, in commemoration of the International Labour Day and backdate its implementation to April.

It was gathered that the National Minimum Wage Committee was working to ensure that all negotiations regarding the new rate were finalised before then, with the expectation that the President would announce the new minimum wage in his Workers’ Day address.

A member of the committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said, “By next week, the minimum wage committee will meet again. It’s a continuous meeting. That is a meeting where all the reports from the zonal public hearings will be collated and reported, and then, you know, that will also give the committee the direction to work with.

“Our target is to ensure that Mr. President announces the minimum wage by the 1st of May, which is the Workers’ Day, for it to take effect from April. So, we are working to meet the timeline”.

The committee member noted that some adjustments will be made, after which the committee will have a private meeting with the president and state governors so a resolution could be made. The source added that NECA will also be involved in the process, noting that “it is not a one-stop affair”.

When reminded that the current minimum wage of N30,000 would cease to be valid on March 31, the committee member said it was unlikely that the new rate would be ready before then, adding that there was still a long way to go in arriving at an acceptable minimum wage for the country.

The source stated, “We have not got to the negotiation point yet. When you finish with the zones, it is the aggregate of what you collect from the zones that will determine the direction of the main committee. Now that we have finished with the zones, when the committee meets, it will collate all the positions of the zones and committee members.

“The positions of the NLC, TUC, NECA (the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association) and the government will be looked at. Then, we will look at the aggregate, find a percentage, and arrive at what will be agreeable.

“We are going to make some adjustments. I am sure the committee will also have a private meeting with Mr President; they will look at the ability to pay, and then with the state governors. NECA will also be involved and we will see how we marry those angles. It is not a one-stop affair”.

According to the report, the minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, was unreachable, while  the special adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said he was not so conversant with the internal deliberations of the committee, but affirmed that talks were on-going among the committee members who, he noted, were cognizant of the urgency of their assignment.

However, a presidential aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tinubu might not wait for May 1 to announce the new minimum wage if the committee was able to complete its assignment as scheduled, noting that ordinarily, the new wage should come into effect on April 1.

“I don’t think the Government will be able to wait until May 1 before announcing the minimum wage. The law says it should be concluded by early April. If the parties agree, why do they have to wait to make the announcement? Because they are negotiating and the law says negotiations should be completed by April”, the aide said.

Meanwhile, the Organised Labour comprising the National Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have warned the State governors that failure to fully implement the new minimum wage may lead to a prolonged industrial action, resulting in a social crisis.

The Labour had said the current N30,000 minimum wage was not realistic, citing the stifling economic crisis which has seen the headline inflation of the country hit a 27-year  high of 31.70% in February, from 29.90 in January.

Recall that in January, the Federal Government inaugurated the tripartite committee responsible for deliberating on the national minimum wage which was inaugurated by Vice-President Kashim Shettima. A 37-member panel was constituted at the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja.

Comprising representatives of the federal and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the committee’s mandate is to propose a revised national minimum wage for the nation.

During zonal public hearings in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja, workers in the North-West requested N485,000; North-East, N560,000; North-Central, N709,000 (NLC) and N447,000 (TUC); South-West, N794,000; South-South, N850,000; and South-East, N540,000 by the NLC and N447,000 by the TUC.

However, the Adamawa and Bauchi State governments suggested N45,000 as the new minimum wage.

The NLC had  on Friday said governors who fail to implement the new minimum wage when it becomes a law would be breaking the law, warning that it was working towards ensuring that tougher sanctions would be meted on such governors.

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