The labour movement comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria must take the blame for the delay in the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage.
The two labour centres have not been effective in enforcing the existing N18, 000 minimum wage; they have not been effective in pursuing the new national minimum wage of N56, 000 or N96, 000, either.
A former TUC Chairman, Rivers State chapter, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, said lack of unity within the labour movement was affecting the agitation for a new minimum wage.
Onuegbu, who spoke at the weekend in Lagos, said the existing N18, 000 minimum wage was long overdue for an upward review, having come into existence in 2011.
The National Minimum Wage Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 after the National Assembly passed it into law, with a proviso for it to be reviewed upwards after five years.
In effect, the 2011 agreement, ordinarily, should be have been open for discussion in 2016. This means that the clamour for a review by the NLC and TUC was legitimate.
Onuegbu, however, noted that in clamouring for a review, labour has not been effective in enforcing the implementation of the existing 18, 000 minimum wage.
He said: “It is good to ask for a new minimum wage, but to what extent has government at all levels implemented the existing minimum wage.” He noted that some states across the country were still owing arrears of the existing N18, 000 minimum wage.
“If NLC and TUC have not been effective in enforcing the N18, 000 minimum wage, how effective will they be in pursuing another minimum wage of N56, 000 or N96, 000?
“Obviously, 70 per cent of the blame for the delay in the implementation of the new minimum wage should go to NLC and TUC, because they have not been effective in enforcing the existing minimum wage; they have also not been effective in demanding the new minimum wage,” he said.
Onuegbu said because of disunity within the labour movement, NLC and TUC have failed take actions in demanding that minimum wage should be paid across the states.
“I think there is need for labour to be united. The lack of unity within the labour movement is beginning to affect the push for minimum wage,” he stated.
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