The Committee for the Defence of Hunan Rights, CDHR, has joined the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and other dissenting voices in Nigeria, to reject the proposed N27, 000 minimum wage recommended to President Muhammadu by the National Council States as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, even as the Human rights body has called on the Nigerian government to address the prolonged strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of University, as a matter of urgent national importance.These positions were contained in a terse press state issued and signed by the President of the CDHR, Barr. Malachy Ugwummadu, who further charged the federal government to implement the N30, 000 recommendation of the tripartite committee that formed the joint negotiating team comprising of delegations from the Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Federal govt.
Reacting to the decision of the National Council of State, approving the sum of N27, 000.00 as the minimum wage, CDHR , opposed the decision of the council, describing it as a clear attempt to undermine the agreement reached by the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC), and the Federal Government and called on Nigerians, especially workers to resist such move, as the council has no such power to determine the fixing of workers wages in the country.
The statement which recalled that the NLC has, for several weeks now, been involved in negotiations with the Federal Government on the upward review of the minimum wage as provided in the National Minimum Wage Act. however condemned the flagrant practice of two types of minimum wage between the federal government and the states.
The Full Statement:
COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS (CDHR) STANDS WITH THE NIGERIAN LABOUR CONGRESS AND REJECTS FRAGMENTED MINIMUM WAGE; DEMANDS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES GRIEVANCES OF ASUU
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) vehemently opposes the N27,000 minimum wage approved by National Council of State. This is clearly an attempt to undermine the agreement reached by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Government and such move must be resisted. To be sure, the National Council of State has no such power to approve any amount as they did. Such intervention is illegal and unconstitutional considering that under S. 153(1) and particularly in part 1, 3rdschedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended),the role of the Council of state is merely advisory on clearly identified issues excluding the minimum wage pointedly provided for in the under S.34 of the Exclusive Legislative list and regulated by the National Minimum Wage Act.
The NLC’s struggle to ensure that workers in Nigeria receive a befitting minimum wage is not new. It must be recalled that over the last few weeks, the NLC has been involved in negotiations with the Federal Government on the upward review of the minimum wage as provided in the National Minimum Wage Act. Although the Federal Government repeatedly expressed concerns over the possible increase in inflation, an agreement was reached that minimum wage would be increased from N18,000 to N30,000. In view of the current increase in prices of essential commodities in Nigeria, it was no longer feasible for minimum wage to remain at N18,000.
The fragmentation of minimum wage where state government workers would receive N27,000 while their counterparts working for the federal government would receive N30,000 is totally unacceptable. The market does not discriminate between federal and state workers and as such this represents the continuation of hardship for the average Nigerian worker.
It is not proper for the National Council of State to approve another sum when it has not sought the approval of the NLC, TUC, UTUC and other trade centers with whom the federal government negotiated. The National Council of States is ordinarily bound by the agreement reached by the Federal Government and Labour. Indeed, nobody, not even the court is encouraged to vary or undermine a verifiable agreement reached by parties.
With regards to the ongoing strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), CDHR hereby demands that the Federal Government addresses the issues raised by the lecturers in order that Nigerian students in public universities resume their studies. ASUU has been on strike since November 5, 2018 and it is very unfortunate that the Federal Government is yet to fully address their requests. Again, it exposes the scant respect that successive governments of Nigeria pay to agreements duly reached.
The Federal Government must not stop at promises but must actually work on the implementation of those agreements whether with ASUU or Labour. Previous failures at implementing promises have made it difficult for the common man to trust that the government will honour their word. It is only logical for the government to transmit the already prepared and attached National Minimum Way Bill to the National Assembly for legislation allowances. Every person who works hard is certainly entitled to his wages and lecturers are by no means an exception to this.
The public university system must not be allowed to fail because of such disagreements. Without doubt, poorer students would have no hope of acquiring a tertiary education and would become veritable hands for all manner of vices in the country.