By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE country is at present sitting on industrial powder keg over the N30, 000 new national minimum wage recommended by the Tripartite members of the National Minimum Wage Committee.
No sooner had information leaked out that the committee had concluded its assignment and report ready to be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari who inaugurated the committee on November 2017, than the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting of October 10, 2018, debunked the claim that the committee was yet to arrive at a consensus figure to be recommended to the Federal Government as the new national minimum wage.
Recall that the committee was inaugurated sequel to unending pressure by Organised Labour from 2016 following the expiration of the subsisting N18,000 national minimum wage which came into effect in 2011.
According to Ngige, among others, “negotiations are still on-going in light of the fact that at the last meeting, the figures submitted by the constituencies that make up the Committee are as follows: state governments, N20,000; federal government N24,000; organised private sector N24,000; organized labour, N30,000.”
But the organized labour insisted that negotiations had been concluded and that in the traditions of social dialogue, spirit of tripartism and collective bargaining, the committee negotiated, deliberated, and consulted widely before arriving at the figure of N30, 000 by consensus.
in response, organised labour warned that it would no longer enter into any fresh negotiations with government over the issue of a new minimum wage, informing that if government failed to implement the N30,000 recommended, it would from November 6, begin a nationwide indefinite strike
Meanwhile, it was gathered that in the course of the work of the committee, it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the Federal Government, Organised Private Sector, Organised Labour and the general public.
According to a source, it received memoranda from Delta, Abia, Adamawa, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ekiti (which said it was consulting), Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, and Borno States.
Aside from memoranda, oral submissions were taken, on which robust debates were held and analysed. To complement these, hearings were held in the six geo-political zones of the country.
In order to arrive at a realistic and doable figure, studies /research were done on the cost of living index, etc.
From the submissions of the governors to the committee, the states that are opposed to the N30,000 minimum wage are not hidden.
In fact, what the governors have done is to adpot the submission of Ondo State which is the second lowest figure besides Taraba State.
From checks, it was found out that Kano with the biggest work force and a monthly wage bill of N9, 200,000.000, offered to pay N30,600.
Other states similarly, agreed to pay as follows: Adamawa, N23,000; Taraba, N20,000;
Imo, not specific; Plateau, N25,000, N30,0000, & N57,0000; AkwaIbom, not specific, Bauchi, N25 200; Abia, N42,000; Ekiti, still consulting; Gombe, N28,000; Jigawa, N32,000; Kogi, not specific; Katsina, not specific; Ondo, N22,000; Lagos, will be bound by Southern State Governors Forum; Oyo, not specific; Nasarawa, N24,750, N31, 348.30; Enugu, will implement anything agreed; Delta, cannot accommodate an increase for now on present Federal Government allocation; Borno, N27,000.
Investigation revealed that at the October 4th and 5th, after a two day warning strike between September 27 and 28; “and in the spirit of give and take, the members mutually agreed at the figure of N30,000 which was not favourable to any party. It was concluded with a promise that the members would come together on an appointed date to sign and submit the report to President Buhari.”
“It is important to explain that preceding the arrival at the N30,000 figure, the Committee relying on evidence-based approach, debated the four scenarios submitted by the Figures Sub-Committee chaired by Dr. Ngige as follows: Scenario One yielded an average of N38,508.18, median of N42,032, and mode of N36,000; Scenario Two yielded an average of N36,522.18, median of N45,000 and mode of N50,000; Scenario Three yielded an average of N37,000; Scenario Four yielded an average of N35,000.