The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has strongly criticized Nigerian governors over their stance on the ongoing negotiations for a new minimum wage.

In a press statement signed by Benson Upah, the Head of Information and Public Affairs for the Congress, NLC condemned the governors’ desire to unilaterally determine what they deem fit as minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

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The statement emphasized that the concept of a national minimum wage is crucial as it sets a baseline below which no worker should be paid, ensuring a minimum standard of living.

The NLC argued that governors’ insistence on deciding minimum wages independently undermines the national framework established for this purpose, which accommodates varying financial capabilities of states while maintaining a national standard.

It pointed out the disparity between how political office holders’ salaries are uniformly determined across states by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, contrasting sharply with the governors’ approach to minimum wage for workers.

The statement accused some governors of displaying ignorance of global best practices in labour relations and governance despite their frequent travels abroad, suggesting they lack proper education on fundamental issues crucial to governance.

It criticized these governors for prioritizing personal interests over the welfare of workers and the broader economy, warning that their actions deepen poverty and insecurity.

NLC commended governors who prioritize workers’ welfare and urged President Tinubu not to be swayed by governors’ pressure, advocating for federal government intervention to ensure a fair national minimum wage.

It emphasized the importance of maintaining equity and fairness in wage policies, stressing that workers’ salaries should not be subjected to arbitrary determinations that undermine their economic rights.

In conclusion, NLC reaffirmed its commitment to defending workers’ rights and called for collective efforts to uphold a wage system that reflects national values and promotes social stability.

The statement reads, “The concept of a national minimum wage is not arbitrary. It represents a national wage floor, a baseline below which no worker in the law should be paid. This threshold is a collective agreement that ensures a minimum standard of living for every worker in the law. The Governors’ demand to unilaterally determine the minimum wage negates this principle and threatens the welfare of Nigerian workers and the national economy.

“It is important to remind the Governors that the national minimum wage is not   synonymous with the individual pay structures of the states which 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.
“Furthermore, the Governors’ argument appears inconsistent when juxtaposed with the remuneration of political  office holders. Why is there no hue and cry when political  office holders across the nation receive uniform salaries as determined by Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission? This double standards which piths a few privileged against the majority poor is an issue that should be of concern to those who love this country.
“We are deeply concerned by this blatant display of ignorance regarding the  global best practices for national minimum wage by some of these Governors. It is evident that, despite their frequent travels abroad, they have deliberately chosen not to educate themselves on fundamental global issues crucial to successful governance. This level of self-imposed ignorance  on basic industrial relations matters clearly illustrates why our nation is poorly governed, resulting in unacceptable  suffering of  Nigerians. For this set of governors we recommend a return to school for proper education as they constitute a threat to our democracy.
“We must also use the opportunity to commend the forward-looking and progressively-minded governors (not in name but indeed) who take seriously the welfare of workers in their thoughts and policies.  We will continue to identify as well as work with them.
“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.
Minimum wage negotiations impasse between the Nigerian government and labor unions
“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 need 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 organizations 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.
“We urge President Tinubu who had promised a living wage (which is superior to a minimum wage) not to allow himself be blackmailed or boxed into a corner by unpatriotic governors.
“We urge  the federal government to stop dithering on the issue of the national minimum wage because of the gang up by some selfish governors.
“The NLC urges the Governors to abandon any inclination towards dictatorial practices as the process remains a tripartite one.  Accordingly,  we call for policies and actions driven by equity and fairness. Ensuring a fair minimum wage is not only a matter of economic justice but also a fundamental aspect of maintaining social stability and national cohesion. Nigerian workers should not be reduced to beggars! Enough is enough!
“Finally, NLC stands firm in its commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of Nigerian workers. We will continue to advocate for a fair and equitable wage system that reflects the true spirit of our nation’s values. We call on the Governors to join us in this commitment for the benefit of all Nigerians. Let  democracy flourish.”