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NASS to enforce sanctions on States, LGs defaulting on minimum wage

Labour unions have repeatedly dismissed the government’s offer, labelling it a “starvation wage”.

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NASS to enforce sanctions on States, LGs defaulting on minimum wage

The National Assembly has resolved to ensure that states, local governments, and the Organised Private Sector stop defaulting in the payment of the approved minimum wage.

The National Assembly may even consider seizing allocations of states and local governments that fail to comply with the new minimum wage, says a source who spoke anonymously with Saturday PUNCH, because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.

This is as the National Assembly announced plans to include a clause that will provide clear sanctions for defaulters of the new minimum wage bill that will be passed after receiving the Wage Award Bill from President Bola Tinubu.

This was made known by the Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, who explained that lawmakers would expedite the passage of the Wage Award Bill once President Tinubu sent it.

He also hinted that the President would send the bill after the National Assembly resumed from the Sallah recess on July 2.

In his Democracy Day broadcast on Wednesday, the President had promised to forward a bill on the new minimum wage to the National Assembly soon.

READ ALSO: Tinubu to Labour: “I’ll only approve a minimum wage within Nigeria’s means”

The Federal Government and labour unions have been at odds over the new minimum wage, with union leaders demanding N250,000. Meanwhile, the Federal Government and the OPS countered with an offer of N62,000, while state governors maintained that they could not sustain a minimum wage higher than N60,000.

Labour unions have repeatedly dismissed the government’s offer, labelling it a “starvation wage”.

The Assistant General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, stated that Organised Labour would not accept the latest offer of N62,000 or the N100,000 proposal suggested by some individuals and economists.

Expressing concern over the labour leaders’ demands and the potential economic repercussions, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, stated on Wednesday that the N250,000 minimum wage proposal could destabilise the economy, lead to mass layoffs, and jeopardise the welfare of Nigerians.

Despite labour’s firm stance on the N250,000 minimum wage, the President emphasised that the government would pay workers what it could afford.

Addressing concerns about compliance, especially given that some states still pay the old N18,000 minimum wage, while others comply with the current N30,000, Adaramodu assured that the new bill will be “watertight”.

He added, “We will ensure it is strictly adhered to as law. The bill will include provisions for sanctions against non-compliance.”

“We are going to produce a watertight bill that we are proposing for the President to sign to ensure that it is strictly adhered to as law. For now, let’s not speculate on the details that the Federal Government will include in the bill to be submitted to the National Assembly.

“But, when it comes, whatever is there and whatever is not, we will ensure that it’s watertight and obeyed by all,” Adaramodu emphasised.

He added, “When we talk about the minimum wage, is it just about the Federal Government? It seems like it’s a fight between the Federal Government and labour. That’s the way everybody is looking at it. We keep mentioning the Federal Government, President Tinubu, and labour. We don’t even talk about the Organised Private Sector or the sub-nationals. The NLC, which recognises the workers in the organised private sector and the sub-nationals, needs to advocate for them.”

“The issue of some states still paying N18,000, though I don’t know because I don’t suspect that to be happening. If some states are paying that, what have the labour unions in those states done to ensure compliance with the N30,000 minimum wage? We need to ask them too. But, like I said, the National Assembly will make this law seriously watertight, with sanctions for non-compliance, whether at the state, sub-national, or organised private sector level,” Adaramodu stated.

The Senate spokesperson added that if such measures were not taken in the past, the 10th Assembly would ensure sanctions for defaulters of the newly agreed minimum wage. “That’s how it’s going to be done this time around. But the labour centres also need to protect the welfare of their members, not only with the Federal Government,” Adaramodu reiterated.

Speaking on the possibility of sanctioning state governors, Adaramodu noted that the National Assembly makes laws for the entire country. “The National Assembly makes laws for Nigeria, not just for President Tinubu,” he stated.

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