The Federal Government said on said the figure of N30,000 recommended by the tripartite committee was a mere recommendation which is not cast on stone and therefore advisory to the President.
In a statement signed by the Assistant Director in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs Illiya Rhoda, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said the N27, 000 minimum wage approved by the National Council of states and contained in the bill sent to the National Assembly is for all categories of workers in the country both those in the public and private sector.
While apparently reacting the position of organised labour rejecting the new figure, the minister ask all those who are not pleased with the figure contained in the bill to prepare and make their submission at the public hearing organised by the National Assembly for that purpose.
He said the recommendations of the tripartite committee was deliberated upon by all statutory organs of the constitutions which are recognised by law as advisory bodies to the President, before the final figure was arrived at.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Minister of Labour and Employment has been drawn to 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.
For avoidance of doubt, the Minister wishes to clarify that “National Minimum Wage is the minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners (workers) at the lowest rung of the salary scale for the work performed during a given period.
“At the expiration of the last National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act, which was enacted in 2011, Mr. President constituted and inaugurated a Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage (TCNMW) in November, 2017, to consider the issue and recommend a new National Minimum Wage to the Government.
“The constitution of the Tripartite Committee was in consonance with the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Nos. 26, 99, and 131, as well as the guidance provided by the accompanying Recommendations.
“In a bid to achieve a holistic and democratic coverage, the prescribed Tripartite structure went beyond the requirements of Tripartism (the Government and Social Partners) to extend to Tripartite – Plus in order to cover other stakeholders which included Nigeria Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), and National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME); in addition to the recognised employers’ Federation – the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA).
“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 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.
“In conformity with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), three (3) Constitutional Bodies further considered the figures. They are: The Federal Executive Council (Section 146 – 147 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended); the National Economic Council (Section 153 and Third
Schedule of same Constitution) and the National Council of States (section 153 and Third Schedule of same Constitution).
“These are all advisers of Mr. President and he is required by the Constitution to take advice and consult these three Bodies on any Political, economic, Security, and other sundry issues of the nation requiring Presidential Consultations/Advice. These bodies are therefore qualified to further consider the recommendation by the TCNMW and advise Mr. President on the best national position that would be equitable and fair to all stakeholders on the matter of a new National Minimum wage.
“It is not the National Council of States alone that considered these figures and the new bill. The job of these three bodies to Mr President are advisory and consultative in nature especially The National Council of State.
“The recommended new National Minimum Wage of Twenty Seven Thousand Naira (N27, 000.00) is for all category of workers in Nigeria whether Public or Private Sector and is so contained in the new National Minimum Wage Bill.
“The workers in the Public Sector are those working in the Federal, State, and Local Government tiers of Government. The National Minimum Wage is for workers occupying the lowest rung of the remuneration ladder on Grade Level 1 step 1, and are the most vulnerable segment of Nigerian workers.
“It is of utmost importance to note that any Public or Private Sector employer who is capable of paying more than the statutory Twenty Seven Thousand Naira (N27, 000.00) should be ready to do so even without subjecting the concerned workers to a tortuous negotiation by the applicable Negotiation Councils.
“The Federal Government has taken the lead in this direction by proposing to augment the Twenty Seven Thousand Naira (N27, 000.00) National Minimum Wage of Federal workers by Three Thousand Naira (N3, 000.00) per month to bring it up to Thirty Thousand Naira (30,000.00) for the least paid worker per month.
“The Federal Government accordingly, expects others in the Public and Private Sectors to do the same, and if the financial capacity permits, employers can pay more than Thirty Thousand Naira (N30, 000.00) especially where their workers are very productive and the Private Sector is a very profitable enterprise.
“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.