The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on state councils and industrial union affiliates to be prepared for a showdown with any state government that attempts to reduce the national minimum wage.
The call is contained in a statement by NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, in Abuja on Sunday.
The statement said Governor Abdulaziz Yari, the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), had insinuated plans by governors to reduce the N18, 000 national minimum wage.
It noted that Yari, who is also the governor of Zamfara, had said if there was no reduction in the national wage, the states would embark on massive retrenchment of workers.
“Congress is convinced that Governor Yari is still holding on to his earlier argument.
“That due to the fall in the price of crude oil at the international market state governments are no longer in the position to pay the legal minimum wage to their workers.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to categorically affirm that the path our governors are headed can only lead to one outcome: a head-on collision with Nigerian workers and Nigerian people,’’ the statement said.
It noted that the minimum wage was the minimum salary a worker was envisaged to earn to sustain himself and dependants over a daily or monthly period.
“In simple arithmetic terms, N18, 000 divided by six persons over 30 days amounts to N100 per day per person or N600 for the six persons per day.
“This amount is expected to feed six people daily while they have to find some amount from the same wage for accommodation, healthcare, transportation, education, among others,’’ the statement said.
It said the political elite did not find anything wrong in earning uniform wages and allowances across board irrespective of the state of natural endowments.
`No amount of preaching or threat from any quarters would stop the congress from insisting on an enforceable national minimum wage.
“We commend the governors of Edo, Rivers, Jigawa and Ekiti states and others who have dissociated themselves from the insensitive and economically illogical campaign by the chairman of the Governors’ Forum.
“The campaign to discard the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act or on the alternative throw more workers into the already saturated unemployment market is totally unacceptable ‘’the statement said.
It called on the ruling APC and the opposition PDP to call their governors to order.
It said any attempt to renege on the payment of the N18, 000 national minimum wage or engage in mass sack of workers in states would throw the country into industrial disharmony.
“This will result to chaos either now or as we enter the New Year in 2016.
“The Minimum wage Act of 2010 which legitimises the negotiated N18, 000 is part of the laws of the federation.
“Nigerian workers will defend the rule of law, including the Minimum Wage Law”, the statement said.