Buhari inaugurates minimum wage committee

FILE PHOTO: Workers at a recent May Day celebrations at Eagle Square.

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated a Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He urged the committee, chaired by former Head of Service of the Federation Ama Pepple, to amicably consider the issue of a national minimum wage and all matters ancillary to it with thoroughness and concern not only for the welfare of Nigerian work-force but the effect on the country’s economy.

The president said since national minimum wage is within the Exclusive Legislative List, Nigeria should aim to go above the basic social protection floor for all workers based on the ability of each tier of government to pay.

"I say this because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and as such should be anchored on social justice and equity," he said.

He said the government’s decision after considering the committee’s final recommendation would be sent as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative scrutiny before passage into law.

He said the inclusion of state governors and private sector employers in the membership of the committee would ensure ease of implementation of a new minimum wage nationwide.

He said he was hopeful that the principles of full consultation with social partners and their direct participation would be utilized by the committee, "bearing in mind the core provisions of the International Labour Organisation Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No.26 (ratified by Nigeria)."

 President Buhari emphasised that the conditions of genuine social dialogue should prevail "in the spirit of Tripartism and Collective Bargaining Agreements.’

He enjoined all members of the committee to collectively bargain in good faith as well as have mutual recognition for each other and always in a spirit of give and take.

According to him, the committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations as soon as possible to enable other requisite machinery to be set in motion for implementation of a new national minimum wage.

 "We all know that the last Minimum Wage Instrument has expired, and it is in recognition of the need to ensure a fair and decent living wage that the Federal Government put in motion necessary mechanism so that we can today inaugurate this large committee with a big task ahead of you.

 "You are all aware that during the period following the increase in Petrol Pump Price in May 2016, a Technical Committee was established to examine and make recommendations to Government on the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.

 "During the deliberations of the Technical Committee which comprised Government and Organized Labour, the need for the review of the National Minimum Wage was highlighted and recommendation to set up a committee to look into the level of minimum wage was made accordingly. I am glad that the recommendation is being acted upon today and we can all acknowledge that this is in line with our democratic process. I wish to thank all those who participated in that exercise.

 "Considering the scope of the membership of this new National Minimum Wage Committee we can see that it is encompassing all stakeholders. My hope is that, the outcome of the deliberations of the Committee would be consensual and generally acceptable," Buhari said.

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