Against the position and argument of the Organized Labour, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige declared on Friday that the N30,000 minimum wage recommended by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage (TCNMW), was not sacrosanct.
The minister stated that the TCNMW was just an advisory committee, as the government is the final and competent authority to fix a minimum wage.
In a statement titled: “Clarification of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Bill,” Dr Ngige said the outcome of the committee work is just a recommendation and therefore not sacrosanct as the final decision lies on the government.
Ngige said his position is to clarify “the various misrepresentations being given to the Press Briefing on the New National Minimum Wage, given at Aso Villa on January 22, 2019, after the meeting of the National Council of State.”
The statement issued last night and signed by the Assistant Director, Press in the Ministry of Labour and Employment said: “It is very important to note that the constituted TCNMW was mandated by Mr. President to deliberate on the issue of a review of the National Minimum Wage and make recommendations for its upward review.
“The output from the TCNMW was therefore never meant to be sacrosanct but to provide a guide for the Competent Authority (The Government) to take a final decision.
“The ILO Conventions on Minimum Wage cited above succinctly stipulate that each Member State shall be free to decide the nature and form of the Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery and methods to be followed in its operation.
“They further provide that before the Competent Authority takes the final decision on a National Minimum Wage, there should be full preliminary consultations with the most representative Organisations of employers and workers. This was done when Mr President constituted and encouraged the work of the TCNMW.”
The minister added: “The Report of the TCNMW asked Mr President to note the figure of Thirty Thousand Naira (N30, 000.00) recommended by the TCNMW by way of motion and not by consensus, and also to note the Federal Government figure of Twenty Four Thousand Naira (N24, 000.00). Mr President considered the Report in full and looked at the differing statistics/figures presented by everybody before he arrived at the figure of Twenty – Seven Thousand Naira (N27, 000.00) per month. I must reiterate that the output by the TCNMW was a recommendation and is not cast in stone but advisory to Mr President.”
Supporting his claims by Nigerian Constitution, Ngige said: “As the matter of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List as item No. 34 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), it is, therefore, the Executive arm of Government that has the responsibility to prescribe a new National Minimum Wage and send to the National Assembly (NASS) for legislative action of getting the Bill passed and/or amended and reverting same to Mr President for Assent like any other law of the nation.
“It is important, therefore, to use this medium to ask the different groups who have interest agreeing or disagreeing on the contents of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Bill already transmitted to NASS, to get ready to make their views known at the Public Hearing.”