‘It’s dictatorial’ — NLC says governors can’t decide what minimum wage to pay

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says state governors cannot dictate the amount to pay as the minimum wage to workers in their respective states.


On Thursday, governors under the umbrella of the Southern Governors’ Forum reportedly said each state should negotiate the new wage with the labour unions based on their ability to pay.


However, in a statement on Friday signed by Ben Ukpa, the union’s spokesperson, the NLC said the notion that governors could pay whatever they deem fit is “dictatorial” and undermines the essence of the model adopted for creating a national minimum wage in the country.


The NLC said the governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy.


 “The concept of a national minimum wage is not arbitrary. It represents a national wage floor, a baseline below which no worker under the law should be paid,” the statement reads.


“This threshold is a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker under the law.


“It is important to remind the governors that the national minimum wage is not synonymous with the individual pay structures of the states that they implement religiously, reflecting their unique financial capabilities and circumstances.



“This diversity in pay structures underscores the flexibility that already exists within the system, allowing states to reward their workers in alignment with their financial realities.”


The labour body said the pursuit by many governors to pay workers whatever they like deepens poverty and causes varying dimensions of insecurity.


“The governors are carried away by their present structure of security detail, but the sword of Damocles awaits them on exit from office,” the labour union said.


“It is unfortunate that workers’ salaries are often seen as charity rather than the hard-earned income of hardworking Nigerians. It is equally painful that some of these governors fail to realise that workers’ salaries substantially drive the economy.


 “Not surprisingly, they prioritise their greed over the needs of ordinary citizens.


“The fate of Nigerian workers cannot be left solely in the hands of employers, whether public or private. No sane society does that.


“What the governors are asking for is akin to allowing numerous companies and organisations in Nigeria to pay workers whatever they like.


“While these companies may not pay the same salaries, they must adhere to the national wage floor, and the same should apply to state governors.”
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