Minimum wage bill must uphold workers’ right to a living wage – SERAP tells Tinubu

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to “ensure that his government’s proposed bill on new minimum wage for Nigerian workers is entirely consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international obligations to promote and advance the right of workers to an adequate living wage.”

The president had in his Democracy Day Speech on June 12 stated that: “We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine the new minimum wage as part of our law for the next five years or less.”

However, in a letter dated June 15, 2024, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “the reportedly proposed level of the minimum wage in the executive bill is grossly inadequate and falls short of the requirements of international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP said the executive bill should reflect the international standards that Nigerian workers should be provided, at a minimum, with a living wage, in accordance with costs of living.

The letter, read in part: “Any proposed minimum wage that fails to guarantee a life in dignity for Nigerian workers and their families would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international standards.”

“Successive governments have persistently and systematically violated these guarantees. Millions of Nigerian workers remain poor due mainly to low wages and a lack of social security and social protection.

“If your government sends to the National Assembly any bill which fails to meet the requirements of international standards, and the bill is then passed into law, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The proposed recommendations are not unrealistic, as they are based on Nigeria’s international human rights obligations. Human rights are not a matter of charity. Upholding Nigeria’s international obligations regarding the right of workers to an adequate living wage would protect the purchasing power of workers in poverty.”

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