Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will tomorrow and day after tomorrow (Wednesday) organize mass protests across the country against the proposed decentralization of the national minimum wage by the Senate.
The Senate is amending the Labour Act and has recommend that wage issues be moved from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List so as to allow governors have a say on what workers are paid. Currently, only the Federal Government has powers to fix the least amount a worker can be paid.
A press statement jointly signed by the President of the TUC Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and its Secretary General Comrade Musa Lawal, said mobilisation for the protest which begins tomorrow was in top gear.
"The labour centres have given directive to their over 60 affiliates throughout the country to be battle-ready against the obnoxious move. We are surprised that in one breathe; the senate proposed decentralization of minimum wage against the people of Nigeria eroding the earning power of vulnerable workers while they voted for life pension for the leadership of the Senate.
"It must be noted that in the first place, the very essence of the concept is to ensure that employees particularly the unorganized and unskilled, are not exploited by their employers to the extent that their pay become so low that it creates a poor of the working masses. Minimum wage is not a living wage; as such it guarantees mere bare existence for workers in the formal sector-public and private. It also influences wages in the informal sector, thus minimum wage, as approved to salary increase, affects all."
The statement, in explaining the importance of the minimum wage says the National Assembly had legislated on it from N125, 00 in 1981 to N5, 500 in 2001 adding that in 2011, the current minimum wage of N18, 000 was signed.
It said the amendment is being pushed by state governors whose motive is decentralize labour and turn the workers into political thugs for the purpose of self-serving politicians. It added that organised labour will never allow the amendment to happen because majority of Nigerians who work in the private sector will suffer.
"We insist that the senate should leave item *34* of the 1999 constitution and allow minimum wage determination to remain in the Exclusive List. We need to stay with the tradition; we need to strengthen, not weaken the protection of the most vulnerable segment of our nation; we also need to avoid the development of a segmented labour market.
"Nigerians must wake and join hands with labour to ensure the minimum wage remain in the exclusive list. This is why this collaboration between the Nigeria Labour Congress and the TUC must be hailed once again," the statement said